South Korea fired the shots at the border earlier this week after detecting an object flying across from North Korea. Seoul later identified it as balloons carrying propaganda leaflets.
The North’s General Staff today dismissed Seoul’s claim as fabrication and accused South Korea of provocation and actually firing machine gun rounds at a “flock of birds”.
The latest standoff comes just after it emerged that Donald Trump told his Philippine counterpart that he sent two nuclear nuclear submarines towards the Korean Peninsula.
North Korea has carried out two ballistic missile tests this month as Kim Jong-un’s regime tries to develop nuclear weapons capable of striking America.
Thursday May 25
7.50pm BST: Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi is making an official visit to Russia on Thursday and Friday, to meet with his counterpart Sergey Lavrov.
North Korean tensions are expected to be the major topic of conversation, as both countries maintain an agenda on the regime’s nuclear capabilities.
This news comes two months after China stopped its imports of coal from North Korea – Kim Jong-un’s major source of income.
Coal exports make up 40 percent of the hermit states total exports, mostly to China.
6.50pm BST: A US lawmaker submitted a bill today which would put a strict ban on travel and tourism to North Korea.
The “North Korea Travel Control Act” proposed by Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff and Republican Joe Wilson would block US tourists from visiting the hermit state.
Other tourists would have to obtain permission through a US Treasury licensing system, Chnnel News Asia reports.
“Tourist travel to North Korea does nothing but provide funds to a tyrannical regime – that will in turn be used to develop weapons to threaten the United States and our allies,” Mr Wilson said in a statement.
“Worse, the regime has routinely imprisoned innocent foreign civilians and used them as bargaining chips to gain credibility with the West. We should not enable them any longer,” he added.
6.15pm BST: A former chief of the US’ National Intelligence believes it would be unwise of Donald Trump to attack North Korea.
Admiral Dennis Blair, former Director of National Intelligence, told a group of Harvard students there is no easy way to disable Kim Jong-un’s nuclear arsenal.
“If I were to run the national intelligence again and the president comes to me and says, ‘Here is General [Jim] Mattis’ strike plan and can you ensure me that this will take out of all the North Korea nuclear capabilities?’ – it won’t be easy to say yes,” Mr Blair said, according to the South China morning Post.
These views were mirrored by Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis who recently admitted that a fight with the communist regime would be a tragedy on an “unbelievable scale”.
4.20pm BST: Donald Trump reaffirmed his commitment to the fight against terrorism in the wake of the Manchester bombing.
Speaking at the NATO summit, Mr Trump said the US and its allies would drive out militants and encouraged all nations to do the same.
“We will never waiver in our determination to defeat terrorism and achieve lasting security, prosperity and peace,” Mr Trump said, after unveiling a September 11 memorial.
“Terrorism must be stopped or … the horror you saw in Manchester and so many other places will continue forever,” he added.
3.15pm BST: President Trump is attending a NATO summit today. Mr Trump has criticised most of his NATO allies for not contributing enough to defence spending.
“I am happy that all NATO member states will underline that NATO is the central pillar of our common security, that we feel united in solidarity for our common security,” Angela Merkel said ahead of the summit.
12.45pm BST: China has urged Japan to act cautiously after authorities in Tokyo said they were collaborating with the US on new missile defence radars.
Speaking at a press briefing, Chinese Defence Ministry spokesman Ren Guoqiang said the issue of anti-missile defences was a matter of trust.
“Especially because of historical reasons, relevant moves by Japan in the military and security field have always attracted close attention from its Asian neighbours and the international community,” Mr Ren said.
“Japan should act cautiously on the anti-missile issue,” he added.
2:30am BST: A US Navy warship has sailed within just 12 miles of an artificial island built up by China. The news come after the US had said it would be allying with the nation over the threat of North Korea.
An international expert claimed the US President is only using his feud with North Korea to launch a surprise attack on China.
James Petras said: “Washington’s strategy is designed to contain and influence China if possible, and in extreme basis for launching a nuclear attack on China.
“I think the pretext of attacking North Korea is simply an excuse to build up US military capabilities for a nuclear attack.”
Donald Trump gave a speech at a NATO summit
Kim Jong-un’s missile tests are causing tension around the world
Wednesday May 24
10pm BST: China is losing patience with North Korea and is concerned Kim Jong-un will hinder their rise to superpower status.
Harvard University history professor Odd Arne Westad said “alarm bells” were ringing in Beijing due to the increasingly erratic nature of there hermit state.
He said: “Great powers, particularly rising great powers, cannot easily tolerate friends and allies getting in the way of larger pictures.
“This is what I think has changed with regard to the relations.”
Prof Westad said relations had never been “as bad as they are today – and they seem to be getting worse very quickly”.
9.30pm BST: A leaked transcript of a call between Donald Trump and Filipino leader Rodriguez Duterte reveals the US President described Kim Jong-un as a “madman with nuclear weapons” who could not be let on the loose.
Mr Trump allegedly told Mr Duterte in the April 29 call that the US would “take care of North Korea,” and had a lot of firepower in the region, although it did not want to use it.
A senior US official said the Trump administration did not dispute the accuracy of the transcript and declined to comment further.
Mr Trump requested Mr Duterte’s help in pressing China – North Korea’s neighbour and only major ally – on the need for it to help rein in the North Koean leader.
He said: ”We can’t let a madman with nuclear weapons let on the loose like that. We have a lot of firepower, more than he has, times 20, but we don’t want to use it.”
6.46pm BST: Donald Trump’s decision to send thousands of troops to Afghanistan has been delayed by a heated debate in the White House.
As Mr Trump arrives at the NATO summit tomorrow, his administration is split on the war in Afghanistan, according to the New York Times.
Jack Keane, a retired Army vice chief of staff, said: “The questions they have to ask are: Is that additional force decisive? Are we going to win? Can we force a political settlement?”
South Korea reportedly shot down North Korean drones over the border
5.20pm BST: President Donald Trump has been welcomed in the Vatican by Pope Francis, in the first face-to-face meeting between the two leaders.
A statement issued by the Vatican said Mr Trump and the Pope discussed issues around healthcare, education and the “promotion of peace in the world”.
Following the meeting, Mr Trump tweeted: “Honor of a lifetime to meet His Holiness Pope Francis. I leave the Vatican more determined than ever to pursue PEACE in our world.”
Pope Francis reportely gifted Mr Trump with a copy of his 2015 encyclical on climate change.
“He is something,” Mr Trump remarked.
3.58pm BST: North Korea’s weapon arsenal could contain up to 400 drones carrying chemical weapons a regime defector has claimed.
Jinmyeong Han who defected from the communist state in 2015, said the drones are being kept underground to avoid detection.
He said: “I was surprised to see that people from the Korean Workers’ Party came and mounted something that appeared to be biological and chemical weapons on the drones.
“They conducted an experiment to spray chemical or biological agents over the mountains and fields nearby. I went to the mountain afterward to check and found all animals dead, although plants survived.”
2.50pm BST: China has warned today that no one had the right to bring “chaos” to the Korean Peninsula, a day after it called for UN sanction agains the North Korean regime.
“No matter which party it is, no one has the right to bring war and chaos upon the peninsula,” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told reporters.
Mr Yi further said that anyone who did that would bear the “historical responsibility”.
The US has been trying to persuade China to help rein in Pyongyang, as Kim Jong-un continues to defy the UN resolutions.
12.18pm BST: President Donald Trump told the Philippine President he has sent two nuclear submarines to North Korea, the New York Times has said.
Mr Trump said a “major, major conflict” with Kim Jong-un was possible but he wanted to resolve the conflict diplomatically.
“We have two submarines – the best in the world,” Mr Trump said, according to the newspaper
“We have two nuclear submarines, not that we want to use them at all.”
The report is based on a Philippine transcript of a call between Mr Trump and President Rodrigo Duterte.
6.15am BST: North Korea has been caught flying balloon packages of propaganda across the border, the South’s defence ministry has said.
The Ministry of National Defence said there were actually around 10 flying objects detected close the Korean Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) and several of them crossed it.
The ministry’s spokesman Moon Sang-gyun said: ”Judging from the results of an analysis, (we) believe there is a low possibility that the objects were drones.”
He added that they are presumed to have been balloons carrying propaganda leaflets from the North.