WASHINGTON (KTVU and AP) - A U.S. missile test scheduled for Wednesday morning at Vandenberg Air Force Base along the central California coast, follows reports Tuesday by U.S. military officials of an "unusual and unprecedented level" of activity by North Korean submarines.
North Korea held its latest missile test July 29th, claiming it is able to launch missiles that could hit major U.S. cities such as Los Angeles, Denver and Chicago.
The stepped up tension between the United States and North Korea is painfully personal to Korean Americans in the San Francisco Bay Area, who see their own families' fates hanging in the balance of the recent North Korean missile tests and hardline response by President Trump.
"It's been terrifying. I think since March and really in April, we've seen this huge ramp up," said Marie Choi of Oakland, who is a member of a group called HOBAK or Hella Organized Bay Area Koreans.
"My dad's family was originally from North Korea and like so many people became refugees during the Korean war," said Choi, whose mother is from South Korea where the family settled on a farm.
Choi says she was glad to hear Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's comments Tuesday.
Secretary Tillerson's statements, at times, were in sharp contrast to the hard-line stance taken by President Trump.
"We do not seek to regime change. We do not seek the collapse of the regime. We do not see an accelerated unification of the peninsula. We do not seek an excuse to send our military north of the 38th parallel. We are trying to convey to the North Korean's we are not your enemy,' said Tillerson.
Tillerson also presented a different position from President Trump on China.
The Commander-in-Chief tweeted Saturday, "I am very disappointed in China...they do NOTHING for us with North Korea, just talk."
In contrast, Tillerson said "We certainly don't blame the Chinese for the situation in North Korea. Only the North Korean's are to blame for this situation."
Daniel Sargent, a U.C. Berkeley associate professor of history says the mixed messages from Washington pose a problem.
"A foreign government, a foreign head of state is going to struggle to ascertain who truly speaks for the United States," said Sargent.
Sargent also says North Korea's second test Saturday of an ICBM or intercontinental ballistic missile appears to reflect concern by Kim Jong Un of increased concern over a U.S. threat to North Korea.
"I think what Tillerson is doing simply is trying to steer a sensible and responsible policy in the context of a very volatile Commander in Chief who is day to day, kind of tacking and shifting in the tweets that he is sending," said Sargent.
U.S. missile experts say Japanese video footage of the ICBM appeared to show it disintegrating upon re-entry before landing at sea. That calls into question North Korea's claims of success.
Meantime, the Japanese ambassador says there are efforts in the United Nations to impose new sanctions on North Korea in the next few days.
The Security Council already has imposed six rounds of sanctions on North Korea. So far, that has not halted the missile programs.