Concerns have been growing that North Korea could soon conduct a sixth nuclear test or more missile launches in defiance of UN sanctions and stark warnings from the United States that its policy of 'strategic patience' was over.
There has been speculation that President Donald Trump, who has now ordered missile attacks in Syria and Afghanistan, was preparing for a pre-emptive strike on the rogue state before the weekend.
American bombers have been placed in Guam ready to strike if the call comes.
North Korea has denounced the US for bringing "huge nuclear strategic assets" to the Korean peninsula, with a US aircraft carrier group headed for the region in preperation for leader Kim Jong-Un's latest demonstration of his country's military muscle.
Tensions between America and North Korea are at breaking point
Tensions have been growing ever since Mr Trump launched 59 Tomahawk missiles at a Syrian airbase in response to a deadly gas attack believed to have been carried out on the orders of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad.
After the US airstrikes in Syria, a spokesman for the North Korean Foreign Ministry's Institute for Disarmament and Peace said in a statement:"The US introduces into the Korean peninsula, the world's biggest hot spot, huge nuclear strategic assets, seriously threatening peace and security of the peninsula and pushing the situation there to the brink of a war.
"This has created a dangerous situation in which a thermo-nuclear war may break out any moment."
Earlier this week, the US leader tweeted that North Korea was “looking for trouble”, and vowed to take on the hermit state alone if necessary as tensions near breaking point.
Pyongyang's vice foreign minister Han Song Ryol said the situation on the Korean peninsula is now in a “vicious cycle” and also accused President Trump of “making trouble” with “aggressive” tweets.
Forbidden photographs depict the true North Korean army
Wed, April 12, 2017
While tourists are able to visit North Korea as part of a controlled tour group, they are asked by their handlers to never take photographs of soldiers. These pictures taken by photographer Eric Lafforgue show the reality of military service in the secretive state
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Soldiers enjoy a ride at the funfair in Pyongyang
He said: "Trump is always making provocations with his aggressive words.
"It's not the DPRK but the US and Trump that makes trouble."
The surprising and unpredictable nature of Mr Trump's military strategy has put foreign leaders on red alert.
Russia and Iran, who are supporting Assad in the ongoing Syrian conflict, have both warned of serious reprecussions if the US attacks the regime's forces again.
One North Korea expert has even warned Russia and China, Pyongyang’s major ally, could unite against the White House because of Mr Trump's aggressive stance on Syria and North Korea.
Professor Rudiger Frank told German magazine Focus: “The Americans have been able to drive a wedge between the then Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China since the 1970s.
“But now the US is facing both countries relatively aggressively. Russia and China have a common opponent who unites them.”
China's foreign minister Wang Yi said a "conflict could break out at any moment over North Korea
In recent years, Kim Jong-un has launched nuclear tests to coincide with ‘the Day of the Sun’, an annual public holiday in North Korea to commemorate the birth of the country’s founder, Kim Il-sung.
Experts believe a North Korean nuclear test could be imminent, with satellite images revealing “unusually high levels of activity” at the Punggye-ri nuclear test site.
China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Friday the situation on the Korean peninsula was heading down "an irreversible route" unless there was a drastic change of diplomacy.
"We call on all parties to refrain from provoking and threatening each other, whether in words or actions, and not let the situation get to an irreversible and unmanageable stage," he said, during a joint media briefing with visiting French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault in Beijing.
"We call on all parties to refrain from provoking and threatening each other, whether in words or actions, and not let the situation get to an irreversible and unmanageable stage,
Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi
South Korea, an ally of the US, warned North of a "powerful punitive measure" if Kim Jong-Un went through with anoter nuclear test.
"If North Korea conducts a strategic provocation such as a nuclear test or an intercontinental ballistic missile launch, there is certain to be powerful punitive measure that will be difficult for the North Korean regime to endure," the South's Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Inside North Korea: The pictures Kim Jong-un doesn't want you to see
Wed, April 12, 2017
Photographer Eric Lafforgue ventured to North Korea six times. Thanks to digital memory cards, he was able to save photos that was forbidden to take inside the segregated state
Eric Lafforgue/Exclusivepix Medi
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Taking pictures in the DMZ is easy, but if you come too close to the soldiers, they stop you
US Vice President Mike Pence travels to South Korea on Sunday on a long-planned 10-day trip to Asia.
The US President has since followed up the the Syria intervention by dropping the Mother of all Bombs (MOAB) on an underground ISIS cave network in Afghanistan, reportedly killing at least 36 jihadis.
The domestic nuclear bunker business is booming in America – thanks in part to Mr Trump’s shock US election win.
Bomb-shelter builder Gary Lynch said he was being kept incredibly busy due to a growing fear of a ‘Trump-ocalypse’ – a nuclear war sparked by the new president’s erratic behaviour.