10.30am: North Korea ‘preparing for missile test’
A US defence official has said that North Korea appears to be preparing for a second intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) test.
Transporter vehicles carrying missile equipment were seen arriving in Kusong – the site of its recent ICBM launch – on Friday, the official told CNN.
When such equipment is seen arriving, a launch can occur within the next six days, he added.
It has been suggested that Kim Jong-un could order a new weapons test to mark the anniversary of the end of the Korean War on Thursday July 27, known as Victory Day.
North Korea staged its first ever successful ICBM launch on Tuesday July 4, testing a missile capable of reaching Alaska.
10.00am: China strengthens border with North Korea
Beijing has deployed a “newly formed border defence brigade” to fortify its perimeter with North Korea.
New reports published on the Chinese army’s official website shows that extra troops are conducting patrols along along the 880 mile border and “gathering intelligence”.
The “whole area” is under “24-hour video surveillance” using patrol cars, drones and high-tech cameras.
China remains North Korea’s strongest ally, although relations have become strained due to Kim Jong-un’s insistence on pursuing a nuclear arsenal.
Beijing’s “major concern” is not a military incursion, but rather an influx of refugees should the region destabilise.
“A mass movement of North Korean civilians across the border into China is a major concern, particularly given the dense population centres not far from the border, and the economic importance of Northeast China,” according to a recent report by the US-based Jamestown Foundation.
In recent days two US army generals have warned that a North Korean war is a possibility.
Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Donald Trump’s highest-ranking military official, said: “Many people have talked about military options with words like ‘unimaginable’.
“I would probably shift that slightly and say it would be horrific, and it would be a loss of life unlike any we have experienced in our lifetimes, and I mean anyone who’s been alive since World War II has never seen the loss of life that could occur if there’s a conflict on the Korean Peninsula.
“But as I’ve told my counterparts, both friend and foe, it is not unimaginable to have military options to respond to North Korean nuclear capability.
“What’s unimaginable to me is allowing a capability that would allow a nuclear weapon to land in Denver, Colorado. That’s unimaginable to me. So my job will be to develop military options to make sure that doesn’t happen.”
Air Force General Paul Selva said: “Many people have talked about military options (against North Korea) with words like ‘unimaginable.’ I would shift that slightly to ‘horrific’.
“It would be a loss of life unlike any we have experienced in our lifetimes.
“Anyone who has been alive since World War II has never seen the loss of life that could occur if there is a conflict on the Korean peninsula.”