South Korea have dropped bombs near the Korean border
For months now, the United States and North Korea have been tip-toeing ever closer to a precipice, a fall from which could spell only disaster on a worrying scale.
The relationship between the two nations has deteriorated almost entirely in recent times, characterized by incendiary rhetoric, militaristic bombast and posturing that has alarmed onlookers and bordering countries.
The United States has been consistently condemnatory of North Korea's missile testing programme, which flies in the face of sanctions from several countries and international bodies, while the North has cast America as the provocateur in return. UN sanctions appear to have had no effect on Pyongyang's military ambitions, and President Trump has grown frustrated with President Xi Jinping of China's inability to restrain Kim Jong-un.
With tensions on the Korean peninsula fast approaching breaking point, then, it was with dismay that news broke of the North's test firing of a missile that flew over Japan. The move was blasted as an "unprecedented, serious and grave threat" in Tokyo, while Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said that the country "will do our utmost to protect people's lives".
Mere hours later, it was reported that South Korea had dropped eight MK-84 bombs close to the country's border with North Korea in a show of military strength. The Independent says that President Moon Jae-In "ordered the strike, by four F-15K fighter-bombers, at a firing range in the country's east to 'display a strong capability to punish' North Korea if it were to attack."
The Daily Mail, meanwhile, reports that South Koeran Colonel Lee Kuk-no said of the military drill;
"If North Korea threatens the security of the South Korean people and the South Korea-US alliance with their nuclear weapons and missiles our air forces will exterminate the leadership of North Korea with our strong strike capabilities".
A statement released later on Tuesday issued from Seoul reads;
"We strongly condemn the North's yet another provocation despite a grave message sent through Resolution 2371 adopted by the international community in the wake of its repeated strategic provocations".
Earlier this summer, President Trump threatened "fire and fury" if North Korea did not temper its military ambitions and provocations, while Pyongyang has previously said that it could bomb the US territory of Guam; it is believed that the missile that was fired over Japan due to its path toward the island.
Meanwhile, US envoy Robert Wood told reporters that the firing of the North Korean missile over Japan would be the subject of a Security Council meeting today, continuing;
"It's another provocation by North Korea, they just seem to continue to happen. This is a big concern of course to my government and to a number of other governments."
World leaders, citizens and onlookers will be hoping that a peaceful solution to an increasingly fraught situation could yet be found. The consequences of a failure to do so would surely prove catastrophic.