‘No Imminent Threat’ From North Korea Despite Rising Tensions

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Ryan Pickrell China/Asia Pacific Reporter
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The Trump administration’s top diplomat stressed Wednesday that there isn’t “any imminent threat” of a North Korean nuclear strike against U.S. military forces in Guam.

“Americans should sleep well at night,” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said during a refueling stop in Guam, a target North Korea warned Wednesday it was considering striking in response to U.S. provocations.

“The [Korean People’s Army] Strategic Force is now carefully examining an operational plan for making an enveloping fire at the areas around Guam,” North Korea announced Wednesday in a state media report that sparked significant concern.

Some interpreted the threat as a response to President Donald Trump’s statement that North Korean threats will be met with “fire and fury like the world has never seen.” North Korea’s comments were in response to recent U.S. intercontinental ballistic missile tests and bomber flights over the Korean Peninsula. Others suspected that a North Korean strike on Guam might be imminent, but there is no evidence that an attack of any kind is on its way.

North Korea warned that it is developing a strike plan for its Hwasong-12 intermediate-range ballistic missile, a weapon tested for the first time in May. The missile, which could theoretically strike Guam, is still in development and has not been approved for combat.

Much of the hype that followed the president’s comments and North Korea’s warnings stemmed from a piece by The Washington Post, which claimed that a recent Defense Intelligence Agency report concluded that North Korea has miniaturized nuclear weapons for warhead development. There is evidence North Korea has had this capability for some time.

For the time being, the threat posed by North Korea, while certainly substantial and worth significant attention, appears unchanged.

“I have no concerns about this particular rhetoric of the last few days,” Tillerson remarked, further commenting, “Nothing I have seen and nothing I know of would indicate that situation has dramatically changed in the last 24 hours.”

While Tillerson denied any significant escalation of threat, he supported the president’s decision to issue a stark warning to North Korea. “What the president is doing is sending a strong message to North Korea in language that Kim Jong-un would understand, because he doesn’t seem to understand diplomatic language.”

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