North Korea’s crackpot leader is testing the patience of the US President with every new missile test in the hermit state.
Kim Jong-un fired a missile into the Sea of Japan last week, a move publicly denounced by United Nations members and international powers.
South Korean president Moon Jae-in is warning there is a “high possibility of conflict” with its North Korean neighbour.
With tensions escalating to a critical point, here are live updates and the latest news on the friction between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un.
Friday May 19
12.55pm BST: North Korea’s southern neighbour has hit an all-time high with its oil reserves, according to the Korea National Oil Corp.
But its northern neighbour China is struggling and has hit the lowest levels in a four year period Xinhua News Agency has revealed.
The news comes weeks after China stopped its imports of coal from North Korea in a bid to rein in Kim Jong-un’s erratic behaviour.
8.35am BST: China’s Xi Jinping has said that he is wiling to put relations with South Korea “back on track” after a row over a US anti-missile system.
Mr Xi called the new South Korean president Moon Jae-In to congratulate him after his victory in the recent election, and the pair spoke of working together to achieve a denuclearised Korean peninsula.
Mr Moon then sent special envoy Lee Hae-Chan to Beijing to meet with Mr Xi.
Mr Xi told Mr Lee: “We’re willing to work with South Korea to preserve the hard-won results, properly handle disputes, put China-South Korea relations back onto a normal track.
“Your visit to China to step up the communication on important issues related to bilateral relations… shows President Moon and his administration have attached high importance to our ties.”
8.20am BST: Developers of the ground-to-ground medium-to-long range strategic ballistic rocket Hwasong-12 were given a heroes’ welcome in Pyongyang yesterday.
Pictures released by North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) show thousands of people lining the streets of the capital to greet the developers, who arrived by bus.
Meanwhile the US Navy is moving a second aircraft carrier into the Korean Peninsula, CNN has reported.
Defence officials have said that the USS Ronald Reagan will join the USS Carl Vinson to conduct dual-carrier training exercises.
North Korean missile developers have been greeted as heroes in Pyongyang
Thousands of Korean lined the streets of Pyongyang to welcome the heroes
Thursday May 18
10pm BST: Financial analysts have warned that it could be time to worry about North Korea.
Citigroup analysts including Asia Pacific chief economist Johanna Chua wrote in a 40-plus page report that “financial markets need to care” and that there was “good reason to believe that risks are ratcheting higher now than in the past.”
The report added: “It is tough to price anything other than higher volatility in the short-term, but there are clear risks to supply chains and to global confidence, as well as implications for capital flows that could upset market equilibria.”
10pm BST: Katina Adams, a spokeswoman for the US State Department said in regard to the new Russia-North Korea ferry: “We call on all nations to fully implement UN Security Council Resolutions, and sever or downgrade diplomatic and commercial relations with North Korea.”
Ms Adams noted Russia’s “obligation” under UN Security Council resolutions, “to inspect all cargo, including personal luggage, of any individual travelling to or from” North Korea.
Reuters television was able to speak to three passengers, who said they were representatives of Chinese tourism agencies.
One of the passengers showed a photograph on her smartphone she said had been taken on board. It showed a plaque with an inscription in Korean which, she said, bore the name of North Korea’s long-dead founder Kim Il Sung.
8.30pm BST: A sharp rise in the cost of smartphones would be an unforeseen consequence of any outbreak of military hostilities between the US and North Korea, according to a report by economic research consultancy Capital Economics.
Any conflict between the two nations would invariably drag in South Korea, which is the world’s fourth largest producer of electronic goods, accounting for six per cent of total production, according to the research
If electronics production was damaged during a war with North Korea, companies would be scrambling to find alternative suppliers but the global economy lacks enough spare capacity to compensate for South Korea’s lost output, the report explained.
That means several companies worldwide would be forced to halt production, which would translate into a sharp rise of various electronic products globally, Capital Economics said.
6.50pm BST: A new ferry line between the hermit state of North Korea and Russia has docked for the very first time in the port city of Vladivostok.
The ferry’s Russian operator says the venture is a purely commercial one, but coincides with North Korea’s bid to strengthen ties with Russia.
“It’s our business, of our company, without any state subsidies, involvement and help,” Mikhail Khmel, the deputy director of Investstroytrest, the Russia firm operating the ferry, told reporters
Kim Jong-un’s missile tests are increasingly worrying the international community
North Korea fired a ballistic missile into the Sea of Japan last week
4.15pm BST: Signs from North Korea suggest Kim Jong-un could be preparing for a missile attack as he orders the construction of protective walls.
According to a report from Asia Press news agency, North Korea “seems to be very aware of the US attack on Syria”.
The report says soldiers have been instructed to create protective walls and remove stone buildings in vulnerable areas.
The news comes after images of what appear to be South Korean military vehicles, were headed to the border.
3.10pm BST: South Korean military vehicles have been reportedly spotted heading towards the border with North Korea.
Pictures of what appear to be military vehicles with South Korean flags on them surfaced today on Twitter.
The freelance investigative journalist who posted the picture said: ”Today, S Korea military vehicles spotted around Seoul heading North, hard to say if there were any Air Def syst
The news comes just a day after newly elected South Korean President Moon Jae-in said there was a “high possibility” of war with the communist regime.
1pm BST: China has entered the boiling pot of tension by lodging a complaint with the United States over penalties on Iranian and Chinese figures.
China has complained that the US is pushing sanctions against Chinese individuals and companies linked to Iran’s and North Korea’s nuclear programmes.
President Donald Trump extended wide sanctions against Iran, under a 2015 international nuclear deal, while pushing new penalties.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said China was closely adhering to international responsibilities.
She said: “China is opposed to the blind use of unilateral sanctions particularly when it damages the interests of third parties.
“I think the sanctions are unhelpful in enhancing mutual trust and unhelpful for international efforts on this issue.
8.30am BST: Donald Trump told South Korea’s presidential envoy that Washington was willing to try to resolve the North Korean nuclear crisis through engagement, but under the right conditions, South Korea’s foreign ministry said.
The envoy to Washington, South Korean media mogul Hong Seok-hyun, has said that Mr Trump spoke of being willing to use engagement to ensure peace.
“The fact that Trump said he will not have talks for the sake of talks reiterated our joint stance that we are open to dialogue but the right situation must be formed,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Cho June-hyuck.
2am BST: North Korea has failed to ease growing international suspicions that it was involved in the WannaCry ransomware attack which crippled 200,000 computers worldwide last week.
State daily newspaper Rodong Sinmun has given a full account of the cyberattack, but did not comment on whether the ransomware had affected systems in the DPRK.
The article read: “The cyberattack, which was carried out via the internet around May 12, swept through a great number of government agencies and business in some 150 countries, including the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China, around the world.
“The international community, shocked by the unprecedentedly destructive cyberattack, is calling for strengthened efforts to fend off crimes exploiting the internet.”