Beijing objects to both the military drills and the deployment in South Korea of an advanced US missile defence system that has a radar that can see deep into Chinese territory. The latest underground nuclear test, North Korea's sixth and the fourth since Kim Jong-un came to power in 2012, was ten times more powerful than the United States bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, in 1945, according to USA officials.
US President Donald Trump has on numerous occasions threatened a military response while also criticising China as well as South Korea, a close US-ally, for seeking talks with the North Korea regime, which, according to Trump, "only understands one thing" (i.e. military power). The yen strengthened on Lee's remarks.
"We must make North Korea immediately and fully comply with all relevant UN Security Council resolutions and abandon all its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner", Abe insisted.
Second, in December 2012, North Korea successfully put a satellite in orbit with a rocket that, had it been a missile, could have ranged to at least Alaska and, if more work had been done, could have hit the continental United States.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un later backed off that threat, saying he would "watch a little more the foolish and stupid conduct" of the United States.
"They see nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction as the only way for them to protect themselves", the Russian president said during the Thursday presser, held at an economic forum in Vladivostok, Russia.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in, whose May election win ended nine years of conservative rule, has had to shift some of the goals of his campaign promise of a new era of engagement with the North and take on a military overhaul meant to keep the regime at bay.
While not nuclear-capable, the B-1B - six of which are now positioned in Guam, 3,360 km from North Korea - is regarded as the workhorse of the U.S. Air Force and has been modernized and updated in recent years.
The demand contradicted the stance of their host, Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has dismissed sanctions as a solution.
Seoul has hardened its stance against Pyongyang after its torrent of arms tests, the latest on Sunday being a detonation of what North Korea said was a thermonuclear weapon built for missiles capable of reaching the USA mainland.
North Korea conducted its fifth nuclear test on September 9 previous year, and then carried out a sixth a week ago, saying it was a hydrogen bomb that could be fitted onto a missile - prompting global condemnation and calls for further sanctions.
China is by far North Korea's biggest trading partner and should a trading embargo be placed between both countries, the latter would be worst hit. "This leads nowhere", he said.
"South Korea may face the most complex strategic environment in Asia", write Sung Chull Kim and Michael D. Cohen, editors of a new collection of scholarly essays titled "North Korea and Nuclear Weapons: Entering the New Era of Deterrence".
"Indeed, a lot of attention has been paid to the crisis on the Korean Peninsula at the talks". "Without political and diplomatic resolutions, it is impossible to resolve the current situation".