One gauge of the advanced preparations for a US-led war on the Korean peninsula is the military and diplomatic activity of key American allies. For its part, the Australian government is mobilising its armed forces to support the Trump administration' threat to "totally destroy" North Korea and the broader US aim of shattering China' geo-strategic influence in Asia and internationally.
An attack submarine, HMAS Dechaineux, is already in the potential war zone, taking part in joint exercises with Japanese submarines and the cruise missile-armed American submarine USS Key West.
A flotilla of six Australian warships is making its way through the South Pacific, South East Asia and the South China Sea, and is scheduled to arrive in the next few weeks in the waters off South Korea and Japan.
The fleet is led by HMAS Adelaide, one of Australia' 27,500-tonne mini-aircraft carriers or Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD) warships. The main component, however, is four of the Navy' most sophisticated guided-missile frigates, which have been particularly equipped for anti-submarine warfare and trained to operate in support of American aircraft carriers.
The frigates would be available to join any US-imposed naval blockade of North Korea, which would potentially involve attempting to interdict Chinese-flagged vessels.