All eyes are on North Korea this weekend for all the wrong reasons. Pyongyang celebrates the 105th anniversary of the birth of founder Kim Il Sung, and there's fear it will mark the occasion with another nuclear test or some kind of missile launch. The US, meanwhile, is flexing its muscle with a buildup of military power in the region as the rhetoric between the two nations intensifies. Here's a look at coverage:
- The US has sent a plane known as a "nuke-sniffer" to an air base on Okinawa in Japan, reports Stars and Stripes. The Air Force WC-135 Constant Phoenix can detect radioactive debris in the atmosphere.
- The Pentagon also has reportedly ordered the USS Carl Vinson aircraft group toward the region, though a US official calls reports of a possible preemptive strike on the North "flat wrong," per Reuters.
- In Seoul, al-Jazeera sees concern that the US will strike the North without consulting South Korea. It cites an op-ed in the JoongAng Ilbo newspaper warning that "a preemptive strike could trigger a second Korean War." But the Wall Street Journal finds that people in the South are largely dismissive of the latest developments.
- An analysis at the Los Angeles Times explores a range of possible actions and reactions from all the major players. It points out that US-China cooperation might yet stave off military action. And there's also the possibility the US would negotiate directly with the North.
- Kim might be aiming for another big payday from the South, suggests an op-ed at the Guardian: "It’s important to remember that ... cash goes a long way, especially in North Korea. That’s why Donald Trump and Rex Tillerson should keep South Korea in the loop."
- The birth anniversary of the nation's founder, April 15, is known as the Day of the Sun and is the nation's most important holiday. The pageantry "reinforces the cult of personality around the Kim family," observes Reuters. The Washington Post also has background on the day, noting that this "personality cult" has allowed the Kims to keep power.
- A former acting CIA chief thinks President Trump should reel it in, reports Politico. Mike Morell, who served under President Obama, says "bluster" is "raising the crisis."
- The North criticized Trump as "vicious and aggressive" on Friday and talked tough about retaliating in the event of any attack, while China tried to bring things down to a simmer.
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