North Korea is building up islands in the Yellow Sea and may be preparing them for installation of military hardware, analysts have claimed.
A string of islands near the Sohae satellite launching station, north-west of Pyongyang, have been beefed up with buildings, extra concrete areas and wide roads over a period of several years, according to reports.
Sohae has been used to launch satellite-bearing rockets but also, earlier this year, to test a new engine for an intercontinental ballistic missile.
Analysts suggested construction work on the nearby islands, some of which are linked to the mainland by causeways, may allow North Korea to launch missiles there or install defensive anti-aircraft weaponry. Some of the islands may have been built from scratch, it is thought.
It comes as US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced his country had prepared new sanctions against the North.
He said the US would take action against countries failing to fully implement existing United Nations penalties on doing business with Pyongyang.
The Donald Trump administration has urged China, North Korea's only major ally, to do more to rein in its neighbour's nuclear and missile programmes, warning that the "era of strategic patience" is over.
China called on all parties in the Korean standoff to remain calm and "stop irritating each other". It followed military exercises by both North and South Korea, as well as the US, after a period of tense rhetoric.
Mr Trump has said he would be willing to meet Mr Kim and Mr Tillerson signalled Washington was seeking diplomatic talks to curb Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions.
Smoke ascends after a Syrian military helicopter allegedly dropped a barrel bomb over the city of Daraya on Jan. 31.(FADI DIRANI/AFP/Getty Images)
Summary Barrel bombs are not especially effective weapons. They are often poorly constructed; they fail to detonate more often than other devices constructed for a similar purpose; and their lack of precision means they can have a disproportionate effect on civilian populations.
However, combatants continue to use barrel bombs in conflicts, including in recent and ongoing conflicts in Africa and the Middle East, and they are ideally suited to the requirements of resource-poor states.
Barrel bombs are improvised devices that contain explosive filling and shrapnel packed into a container, often in a cylindrical shape such as a barrel. The devices continue to be dropped on towns all over Syria. Indeed, there have been several documented cases of their use in Iraq over the past months, and residents of the city of Mosul, which was recently …
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Followers of Zaidi Islam, a branch of Shiism, rul…