A first rate crisis is brewing in and around the Korean Peninsula that may well come to a head this week. The escalation of military tensions in the Yellow Sea that separates the Korean Peninsula from the Chinese mainland is likely to take two pathways - one originating in Pyongyang and the other in Beijing - or both.
As Washington and Seoul respond with diplomatic and military measures to the alleged sinking of a South Korean naval ship, 'Cheonan', at the end of March by a small North Korean submarine, Pyongyang is promising more defiant action.
In a statement issued on Monday, the North Korean government referred to its "nuclear deterrent", a term that it had used before conducting nuclear tests in October 2006 and May 2009. This time around it went a step further to warn that it had a new approach to demonstrate its strategic capabilities.
China, in turn, has condemned the US-South Korea military exercises planned for this weekend in the Yellow Sea as a provocation.
According to reports from Beijing on Monday, the Chinese People's Liberation Army plans to conduct live ammunition exercises during June 30 to July 5 in roughly the period when US and South Korea will be conducting their joint anti-submarine exercises.