While there is unrest in a number of ‘hot spots’ throughout the world, the recent activity in North Korea—including a nuclear test and missile launches—is the most troubling. The pieces are falling into place for the reclusive, totalitarian North Korean government to pose a serious threat to the region, the United States, and the world.

Hot on the tails of the North Korean nuclear test at the end of last month, and the declaration that North Korea would no longer be bound by the 1953 armistice that ended the Korean War, there’s more sabre-rattling going on. There are two stories related to North Korea that I am following very closely, as either may end up leading to war depending on how things are played by North Korea and our own government.

First, the USS John McCain—a U.S. Navy destroyer—is tracking a North Korean ship suspected of violating the terms of a sanctions-tightening U.N. Security Council resolution passed on Friday. North Korea has declared that the interception and boarding of its ships will be considered an act of war that would provoke retaliation. It is unclear at this point whether the ship will be intercepted.

Separately, North Korea is said to be preparing a new missile test which will possibly be launched in the direction of Hawaii on-or-around July 4. The U.S. military has stepped up our missile defense systems for Hawaii, but—cue the broken record—North Korea declares that any interception of its missile tests will be treated as an act of war. Of course, if a North Korean missile enters U.S. sovereign territory then North Korea will have already committed an act of war on their own.

Let’s hope and pray that these two incidents-in-the-making fizzle quietly, rather than escalating into a full-blown military conflict.