Trump warns N Korea of ‘fire and fury’

De­clares US nu­clear ar­se­nal ‘more pow­er­ful than ever’

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump yes­ter­day ratch­eted up his war of words with North Korea, declar­ing that Amer­ica’s nu­clear ar­se­nal was “more pow­er­ful than ever”-even as his team in­sisted there was no im­mi­nent threat of dan­ger. Hours af­ter putting Py­ongyang on no­tice that it faced “fire and fury” over its weapons and bal­lis­tic mis­sile pro­grams, Trump took to Twit­ter to is­sue an­other stark warn­ing. But af­ter North Korea said it was con­sid­er­ing a mis­sile strike near the US Pa­cific ter­ri­tory of Guam, Trump’s top diplo­mat de­liv­ered a mes­sage of re­as­sur­ance to its res­i­dents and mil­i­tary per­son­nel as he made a stop-over on the is­land.

Trump’s “fire and fury” com­ments on Tues­day had trig­gered ex­pres­sions of con­cern from China as well as from US al­lies. Yes­ter­day, stock mar­kets and the dol­lar slipped as in­vestors sought safe-haven investments. Trump’s early morn­ing tweets-writ­ten from New Jersey, where he is on va­ca­tion for two weeks­did lit­tle to calm frayed nerves. “My first or­der as Pres­i­dent was to ren­o­vate and mod­ern­ize our nu­clear ar­se­nal. It is now far stronger and more pow­er­ful than ever be­fore,” Trump wrote. “Hope­fully we will never have to use this power, but there will never be a time that we are not the most pow­er­ful na­tion in the world!”

‘Amer­i­cans should sleep well’

Trump’s lan­guage towards North Korea has be­come in­creas­ingly hard-edged since Py­ongyang car­ried out a pair of suc­cess­ful in­ter­con­ti­nen­tal bal­lis­tic mis­sile tests (ICBM) in July, which put the US main­land in range for the first time. Guam-a 210-square-mile dot in the Pa­cific that is home to some 6,000 US troopswould be a far eas­ier tar­get were North Korea to con­firm its po­si­tion as a fully-fledged nu­clear power.

Py­ongyang’s KCNA state news agency re­ported yes­ter­day that plans were be­ing drawn up for mis­sile strikes against Guam that could be put into ac­tion at “any mo­ment” af­ter North Korean leader Kim JongUn gives the or­der. US Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son, who re­fu­elled in Guam on yes­ter­day while fly­ing back home from South­east Asia, said Trump was de­ter­mined to send an un­equiv­o­cal mes­sage to his North Korean coun­ter­part. “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,” he said.

Tiller­son, how­ever, said that he did not be­lieve “there is any im­mi­nent threat” to Guam or other US tar­gets and hoped that di­plo­matic pres­sure would pre­vail in the cri­sis. “I think Amer­i­cans should sleep well at night, have no con­cerns about this par­tic­u­lar rhetoric of the last few days,” Tiller­son said. The is­land’s gov­er­nor Ed­die Calvo re­as­sured res­i­dents there was cur­rently “no threat” to the ter­ri­tory, which has a to­tal pop­u­la­tion of more than 160,000 and houses two US mil­i­tary in­stal­la­tions. In the cap­i­tal Hagatna, is­landers kept their cool. “It’s not like there’s any­thing we can do any­way. This is a small is­land. There’s nowhere to run to,” res­i­dent James Cruz said AFP.

Rapid progress

Ex­perts have long dif­fered over the North’s exact ca­pa­bil­i­ties but all agree it has made rapid progress un­der Kim. Last month, Py­ongyang car­ried out its first two suc­cess­ful ICBM launches, the first­de­scribed by Kim as a gift to “Amer­i­can bas­tards” show­ing it could reach Alaska, and the sec­ond ex­tend­ing its range even fur­ther, with some ex­perts sug­gest­ing New York could be vul­ner­a­ble.

On Tues­day, The Wash­ing­ton Post quoted a US De­fense In­tel­li­gence Agency analysis as say­ing of­fi­cials think North Korea now has “nu­clear weapons for bal­lis­tic mis­sile de­liv­ery”-in­clud­ing by its ICBMs-mak­ing it a po­tent threat against neigh­bors and pos­si­bly the United States. The Pen­tagon did not com­ment on the story, but the Post said two US of­fi­cials fa­mil­iar with the analysis had ver­i­fied the as­sess­ment’s broad con­clu­sions, and CNN said it had con­firmed the re­port.

The North’s cur­rent abil­ity to launch an ac­cu­rate nu­clear strike re­mains open to ques­tion, with an­a­lysts sug­gest­ing it has yet to over­come some ma­jor tech­ni­cal hur­dles. Af­ter Kim’s sec­ond ICBM test, some ex­perts said it ap­peared the “re-en­try ve­hi­cle” that would carry a war­head back into Earth’s at­mos­phere from space had failed in the in­tense heat.

US of­fi­cials have re­peat­edly said this year that mil­i­tary ac­tion against the North was an “op­tion on the ta­ble,” though Tiller­son said noth­ing had “dra­mat­i­cally changed” in the mil­i­tary equa­tion in the past 24 hours. The UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil unan­i­mously ap­proved a se­ries of sanc­tions over the week­end which could cost North Korea $1 bil­lion a year, with even the regime’s main ally China vot­ing for the US­drafted pro­posal. While the sanc­tions vote was seen as a di­plo­matic tri­umph for the US, there is wide­spread un­ease about the ramp­ing up in ten­sions. The North’s main ally China warned against “words and ac­tions” that would stoke ten­sions, while Ger­many said it was watch­ing the “in­creas­ing rhetor­i­cal es­ca­la­tion” with con­cern. France mean­while praised Trump’s “de­ter­mi­na­tion” in stand­ing up to Py­ongyang. Repub­li­can US Sen­a­tor John McCain said Trump should tread care­fully when speak­ing about the North, telling a US ra­dio sta­tion: “All it’s go­ing to do is bring us closer to some kind of se­ri­ous con­fronta­tion.” — AFP

PY­ONGYANG: In this April 15, 2017, file photo, a mis­sile that an­a­lysts be­lieve could be the North Korean Hwa­song-12 is pa­raded across Kim Il Sung Square. — AP

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Kuwait

© PressReader. All rights reserved.