February 4, 2013
South Korean and U.S. troops began naval drills Monday in a show of force partly directed at North Korea amid signs that Pyongyang will soon follow through on a threat to conduct its third atomic test.
The region has also seen a boost in diplomatic activity since last month, when North Korea announced it would conduct a nuclear test to protest U.N. Security Council sanctions toughened after a satellite launch in December that the U.S. and others say was a disguised test of banned missile technology.
Pyongyang’s two previous nuclear tests, in 2006 and 2009, both occurred after it was slapped with increased sanctions for similar rocket launches. As it issued its most recent punishment, the Security Council ordered North Korea to refrain from a nuclear test or face “significant action.”