The US has sent warships into waters near the Korean Peninsula in a show of force against North Korea’s “reckless” nuclear threat.
It comes days after North Korea condemned America’s strike on Syria as an act of “intolerable aggression”, claiming the move justified “a million times over” their reasons for developing a nuclear deterrent.
President Donald Trump talked to China’s leader Xi Jinping this week about the need for Beijing to encourage Kim Jong-Un to halt his nuclear weapons programme.
Ahead of the meeting, North Korea fired a medium-range ballistic missile into the Sea of Japan.
Now, in the latest sign that tensions are increasing, the US has deployed a Navy strike group led by the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier from Singapore.
It described the decision to divert the fleet from scheduled calls in Australia as “a prudent measure to maintain readiness and presence in the Western Pacific”.
Despite UN resolutions barring North Korea from any use of ballistic missile technology, Mr Kim has been busy developing missile capabilities. So far five nuclear tests have been staged, two of them last year.
US Pacific Command spokesman Commander Dave Benham said: “The number one threat in the region continues to be North Korea, due to its reckless, irresponsible and destabilising programme of missile tests and pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability.”
It is feared Pyongyang may now be preparing its sixth nuclear test.
Experts believe North Korea may be just two years away from developing long-range missiles capable of reaching the United States.
In February they fired four ballistic missiles towards Japan, an act Japanese PM Shinzo Abe called “absolutely intolerable”.
Last August, Pyongyang successfully test-fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile 500 kilometres (300 miles) towards Japan.
When it comes to putting a stop to North Korea’s nuclear ambition, US secretary of state Rex Tillerson said: “The policy of strategic patience has ended.
“We’re exploring a new range of diplomatic, security and economic measures. All options are on the table.”
By Bethany Minelle, News Reporter
(c) Sky News 2017: US warships sent towards North Korea over nuclear threat