North Korea threat after Trump vows ‘fire and fury’
Kim Jong Un said to be considering strike on Guam
 President Donald Trump talks about North Korea during a briefing on the opioid crisis on Tuesday © AP                   
North Korea said its leader Kim Jong Un was weighing whether to strike the US Pacific territory of Guam, just hours after Donald Trump vowed to meet threats made by North Korea “with fire and fury like the world has never seen”.
The comments, released via North Korea’s state news agency, appear to escalate a dangerous game of chicken as the US struggles to bring the nuclear aspirant and its rapidly developing missile programme into line.
The Korean People’s Army said the strike plan would be “put into practice in a multi-current and consecutive way any moment” once the supreme leader had made a decision about targeting the small island territory of fewer than 200,000 people, which lies south of Japan.“
The KPA strategic force is now carefully examining the operational plan for making an enveloping fire at the areas around Guam with medium-to-long-range strategic ballistic rocket Hwasong-12 in order to contain the US major military bases on Guam, including the Andersen Air Force base,” said the KPA, referring to a missile it first tested in May.
US strategic bombers “threaten and blackmail [North Korea] through their frequent visits to the sky above South Korea”, the KPA added. “It is a daydream for the US to think that its mainland is an invulnerable heavenly kingdom.”
President Trump had earlier told reporters that “North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States”, following reports Pyongyang had cracked one of the final technological challenges in nuclear missile design by successfully miniaturising the atomic warhead.
The intelligence assessment, reported by The Washington Post, underlines the grave threat that the Trump administration has spent the past seven months striving to stem.North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States . . . they will be met by fire, fury and, frankly, power the likes of which this world has never seen before President Donald Trump.
Mr Trump’s comments drew criticism from political opponents, who accused him of baiting the paranoid North Korean regime under Mr Kim, who predicates his rule on his missile programme and threats to the US, which it frames as an imperial aggressor.“
I take exception to the president’s comments because you [have] got to be sure that you can do what you say you’re going to do,” John McCain, Republican senator and chairman of the armed services committee, told reporters, adding it brings the US “closer to confrontation”.
Mr Trump’s comments carry an eerie echo of those made by President Harry Truman after he told the American public in 1945 that the US had dropped the world’s first atomic bomb on Hiroshima following Japan’s failure to meet a US ultimatum: “If they do not now accept our terms, they may expect a rain of ruin from the air, the like of which has never been seen on this earth.”
Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader in the Senate, said: “We need to be firm and deliberate with North Korea, but reckless rhetoric is not a strategy to keep America safe.”
James Mattis, the US defence secretary, and senior Pentagon officials have warned of the cost of war with North Korea: US allies South Korea and Japan are within range of the Pyongyang’s arsenal of nuclear, conventional and biochemical weapons.The report that US intelligence believes North Korea has miniaturised nuclear weapons so it can fit them to its growing arsenal of medium and long-range missiles, which are at various stages of development, will only add to concerns. It said the Defense Intelligence Agency, one of the 17 agencies that make up the US intelligence community, made the initial assessment. The report also says the US believes North Korea now has up to 60 nuclear weapons.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which heads the US intelligence community, declined to comment and the DIA did not immediately respond to requests.
“We’re not sure if [the assessment] reflects the views of the entire intelligence community,” said Bruce Klingner, a former Central Intelligence Agency analyst at The Heritage Foundation. In 1999, he predicted North Korea would be able to hit the US by 2015 and has previously warned that the US regularly under-assessed the threat from North Korea.
“There seems to have been a tendency over the years to downplay the threat given repeated failures [of] missile launches, with the presumption that North Korea couldn’t accomplish what other nations have done,” said Mr Klingner. He said the autocratic state was regularly “referred to as the hardest of the hard targets in the intelligence community”.

The US assessment goes further than a warning by Japan on Tuesday, which only went as far as concluding that it was “possible” that North Korea had already achieved the miniaturisation of nuclear weapons.
Robert Litwak, director of international security studies at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, who has studied North Korea’s nuclear capabilities, said the country had taken “another major step” that would allow it to threaten the US mainland. “
North Korea now is on the cusp of a nuclear breakout but there is time to alter the trajectory of that technological advance — it took the US years to master these complex and integrated technologies and that creates a space, a potential political space, for diplomacy,” he said.

North Korea tested its first intercontinental ballistic missile — the Hwasong-14 — last month, which is believed to have the range to reach at least Alaska and possibly as far as the US east coast, escalating the threat further and prompting Washington to co-ordinate a global response.
Mr Trump tweeted earlier on Tuesday that “after many years of failure, countries are coming together to finally address the dangers posed by North Korea”.
Rex Tillerson, US secretary of state, is seeking to stitch a broad coalition of Asian countries against the North Korean threat on his trip to Manila, while also raising the prospect of talks should North Korea forgo its nuclear ambitions.
The US also secured support at the weekend from both China and Russia for unprecedented UN economic sanctions via a broad export ban that seeks to deprive North Korea of a third of its revenues.
Mr Litwak, who has previously described North Korea as a failed state with nuclear weapons, said the most the US could probably hope for is that the country might feasibly halt its nuclear programme as an interim step, rather than dismantle it altogether.
“A freeze would be a diplomatic sweetspot,” he said.North Korea also appeared to dismiss any possibility of negotiation with Washington, saying:
“The strategic weapons that the DPRK manufactured at the cost of blood and sweat, risking everything, are not a bargaining thing for getting acknowledgment from others.”

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