China warned Friday that rising tensions over North Korea must be calmed before they reach an "irreversible and unmanageable stage." Some observers fear that Pyongyang is preparing to conduct its sixth nuclear weapons test. U.S. ally South Korea said that a nuclear test or intercontinental ballistic missile launch would be a "strategic provocation" that would provoke a "powerful punitive measure."
The U.S., which has warned that its policy of diplomatic patience toward North Korea was over, has sent an aircraft carrier group toward the region. North Korea accused the U.S. of "seriously threatening peace" by sending "huge nuclear strategic assets" to the region.
Vice President Mike Pence is heading to South Korea on Sunday on a long-planned trip.