U.S., North Korea face off in high-stakes game of chicken

BEIJING -- North Korea conducted a large-scale, live-fire military drill on Tuesday morning in yet another show of force. It was part of celebrations marking the 85th anniversary of the founding of the country’s military.

While the North fired weapons near the east coast of the Korean Peninsula, the U.S. and South Korea conducted drills off the west coast. Meanwhile, the USS Carl Vinson naval strike group is making its way to the divided peninsula.

CBS News correspondent Adriana Diaz reports that, in addition to beefing up America’s military presence in the region, President Trump is also stepping up his rhetoric.

On Monday, he said dictator Kim Jong Un isn’t as strong as he claims to be, and he blamed the international community for not doing more to rein him in.

The “status quo” on North Korea is “unacceptable,” Mr. Trump told members of the United Nations Security Council on Monday at the White House. He scolded the other members of the council for falling short in their dealings with North Korea.

“The council must be prepared to impose additional and stronger sanctions,” he said.

The deployment of a U.S. Navy strike group -- which will be joined by two Japanese destroyers and South Korean ships -- to the Korean Peninsula is a show of force and a clear warning to North Korea.

The USS Michigan, a nuclear powered submarine, also arrived in the South Korean port city of Busan on Tuesday.

Angered by that U.S. military build-up and the threat of further sanctions, the Kim regime has stepped up its rhetoric, too, unveiling new weapons and lashing out rhetorically at its adversaries.

North Korean state media has called the military movements “extremely dangerous,” warning the U.S. to “consider carefully any catastrophic consequence.” 

Jonathan Pollack, a senior Koreas analyst at the Brookings Institution, says the back-and-forth threats and military posturing “raises the stakes,” and he urges the White House to proceed with caution.

“With the United States and others talking far too loosely about the prospects of a pre-emptive strike, that’s what would trigger retaliatory actions by North Korea,” Pollack tells CBS News.

Diaz notes that it has also been three days since North Korea detained Korean-American professor Tony Kim at Pyongyang airport. Kim joins two other Americans being held by the increasingly isolated regime.

“We could stumble needlessly into what would be the biggest crisis in East Asia since the United States intervened in the Korean War in 1950,” warns Pollack.

To avoid that, the Trump administration is ramping up diplomatic efforts to put pressure on North Korea. Mr. Trump has spoken by phone to the leaders of China and Japan.

On Wednesday, U.S. Senators will get a rare briefing on the issue at the White House, and on Friday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will chair a special meeting on North Korea at the United Nations.