Tensions have been running particularly high on the Korean Peninsula, and the related parties are taking extra steps to ensure they are ready to react based on information that is both timely and accurate.
The U.S. Air Force's WC-135 Constant Phoenix aircraft, also known as the "nuke-sniffer," was spotted in South Korean airspace above the East Sea on Thursday afternoon.
According to South Korean defense ministry officials, the plane was deployed from a U.S. base in Okinawa to verify rumors that North Korea was going to conduct its sixth nuclear test the same day, though the rumors didn't hold up in the end.
Two of the planes had reportedly arrived at the U.S.-operated Kadena Air Base on April 7th. to prepare for this kind of situationand returned there Thursday after surveying the East Sea.
The surveillance craft had made their last appearance over the Korean peninsula in September of 2016, after North Korea conducted its fifth nuclear test.
As the nickname suggests, the "nuke-sniffer' is equipped with a special device that enables it to collect and identify chemical elements released into the atmosphere during a nuclear test.
Although the planes returned empty-handed this time, many experts, including South Korea's own foreign ministry, have long believed there is a high possibility the regime could conduct its sixth nuclear test in April.
"North Korea is likely to conduct high-intensity strategic provocations, such as a nuclear test or a ICBM launch, around key events in April, including April 25th."
On that day, North Korea will celebrate the 85th anniversary of the founding of its Korean People's Army and American media outlets, including ABC News, have also speculated about the likelihood of a nuclear or a missile test on that date.
The North Korea monitoring website 38 North, however, released a report on Wednesday saying it had seen "little activity" at the site.
Kim Jung-soo, Arirang News.