There are reports today of further activity at the mouth of the main tunnel at North Korea’s nuclear test site likely meaning we still have time before a test. China has warned North Korea not to cross a line from where it cannot return in terms of conducting its sixth nuclear test.

In military developments, the US started deploying elements of its Terminal High Altitude Air Defense System (THAAD) geared to defeat Short (SRBM) and Medium Range Ballistic Missiles (MRBM) to South Korea. This comes a day after North Korea staged a military drill in Wonsan, to mark the founding of the country's Army. The exercise consisted of between 300 and 400 long-range artillery pieces being test fired at targets. The US and South Korea also reportedly carried out a massive live fire exercise and it was reported that the US nuclear-powered attack submarine (SSN) USS Michigan carried out missile drills. It was revealed that the USS Mahan an Aegis-class destroyer fired a flare in the direction of an Iranian Revolutionary Guard ship this week during an encounter in the Persian Gulf. As well, the US test-fire a Minuteman III Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) on Wednesday that touched down in the South Pacific.

In a well-timed event, China launched its second aircraft carrier, the Type 001A, and the first one developed domestically. The carrier Type 001A is 315 meters long, 75 meters wide, has a cruising speed of 31 knots and an estimated displacement of 70,000 tons. It is slightly larger than the Liaoning, China’s first aircraft ­carrier, which was refurbished from the Soviet carrier Varyag. The Varyag was purchased in 1998 and China started developing its own domestic variant of the former Soviet carrier, the Type 001A, in November 2013, and building it in the dock in March 2015. The new carrier has a bigger hangar to carry more J-15 fighter aircraft and more space on the flight deck for helicopters and other aircraft. The 001A is conventional powered and has the same type of ski-jump take-off ramp of the Liaoning.

President Trump and his national security team of US Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Defense, Jim Mattis, Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General, Joseph Dunford are set to brief the entire US Senate at the White House this afternoon at 3pm EDT. The Trump administration is clearly making their case against North Korea and has warned all options are on the table. This massive briefing of Senators at the White House is almost unprecedented and a relative rarity.

#THAAD #US #SouthPacific #China #MediumRangeBallisticMissile #JamesMattis #JointChiefs

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