All indications are that China has tired of Kim Jong-un, his reckless rhetoric, and unruly, international behavior. On May 4th, a North Korean spokesman in an unprecedented move, criticized China directly, in the latest sign of a growing rift between Beijing and the North over its nuclear weapons program. China’s response was swift. China conducted military live-fire drills and tested a range of new missiles and weapons close to North Korea. China announced the completion and success of the drills but it was a clear warning to the Kim Jong-un regime that essential got a front row seat for the exercises. The war games were carried out in the north-eastern Bahai Sea near the North Korean coastal area. As part of the exercises, China appears to have tested a new missile yet to be identified. It is believed that the missile or missiles tested could have included a new variant of the DF-26 Intermediate-Range Ballistic Missile (IRBM), the DF-26B, the new Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missile (SLBM) JL-3, or the DF-21D Medium-Range Ballistic Missile (MRBM). The DF-26B IRBM is believed to be an extended range anti-ship variant of the DF-26. The JL-3 SLBM with an estimated range of 12000 kilometers is the new follow on to the JL-2 SLBM developed for the latest variant of Type 094A Jin-class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines (SSN.) The DF-21D MRBM is the first road-mobile, solid propellant missile developed by China as an anti-ship variant or ‘carrier killer’ of the DF-21 MRBM with an estimated range of 1,500-1,700 kilometers. The DF-21D is reportedly armed with the DF-ZF hypersonic glide vehicle (HGV), a high-speed maneuvering warhead that can penetrate U.S. air defense systems. Meanwhile in a sign that North Korea is not getting the message, Pyongyang has said it has the right to “ruthlessly punish” the four American citizens it has detained and that are now being held as hostages. As well, North Korea has warned that Pyongyang is prepared carry out its sixth nuclear weapons test at Punggye-ri nuclear test site and that it would do so at an undisclosed time. Media have reported that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wants to purchase BGM-109 Tomahawks Land Attack Cruise Missiles (TLAM) with a range of 900 miles, to be deployed on the country's Aegis destroyers, which can carry up to 90 TLAMs each. Tomahawk TLAMs with a conventional or nuclear warhead would give Japan an option of going it alone should the need to do so arise with the North, or any regional power for that matter. It must be noted, that even without nuclear weapons, that Tokyo can easily and rapidly attain, Japan remains Asia’s foremost military power after the US. With massive US military forces still in the region, including the bulk of three aircraft carrier strike groups armed with Tomahawk TLAMs and hundreds of warplanes, the CIA has established a Korea Mission Center to address "the nuclear and ballistic missile threat posed by" North Korea. Lastly, the US Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coates, has warned in testimony that “North Korea is an increasingly grave national security threat to the United States.” 

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