Don’t in­vite ‘fury,’ Trump tells N. Korea

Warn­ing comes as regime threat­ens strike on Guam

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - In­for­ma­tion for this ar­ti­cle was contributed by Matthew Pen­ning­ton and Catherine Lucey and Deb Riech­mann of The Associated Press; by John Wag­ner, Jenna John­son, Carol Morello and Anne Gearan of The Washington Post; and by Peter Baker, Choe SangHun, David

BRIDGEWATER, N.J. — Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump threat­ened North Korea “with fire and fury like the world has never seen” on Tues­day af­ter re­ports that the com­mu­nist coun­try has mas­tered one of the fi­nal hur­dles to be­ing able to strike the United States with a nu­clear mis­sile.

Hours later, North Korea said it is ex­am­in­ing its op­er­a­tional plans for at­tack­ing Guam — a U. S. ter­ri­tory about 2,100 miles away — in order to con­tain U.S. mil­i­tary ac­tiv­ity there.

The North Korean army said in a state­ment dis­trib­uted to­day by the staterun news agency that it is study­ing a plan to cre­ate an “en­velop­ing fire” in ar­eas around Guam with medi­umto long-range bal­lis­tic mis­siles. In re­cent months, U.S. strate­gic bombers from Guam’s An­der­son Air Force base have flown over Korea in a show of force.

“Will only the U.S. have op­tion called ‘ pre­ven­tive war’ as is claimed by it?” the Strate­gic Force of the North’s Korean Peo­ple’s Army said in its state­ment. “It is a day­dream for the U.S. to think that its main­land is an in­vul­ner­a­ble Heav­enly king­dom.”

It wasn’t clear whether Trump and the Kore­ans were re­spond­ing di­rectly to

each other, but the threats ex­changed be­tween the nu­clear-armed na­tions fur­ther es­ca­lated ten­sions be­tween the foes.

Trump’s stern words to the cam­era at his golf course in Bedminster came hours af­ter re­ports in­di­cated that North Korea can now wed nu­clear war­heads with its mis­siles, in­clud­ing those that may be able to hit the Amer­i­can main­land. The iso­lated and im­pov­er­ished dic­ta­tor­ship has striven for decades to have the abil­ity to strike the U.S. and its Asian al­lies, and the pace of its break­throughs is al­ready hav­ing far-reach­ing con­se­quences

for sta­bil­ity in the Pa­cific and beyond.

The nu­clear ad­vances were de­tailed in an of­fi­cial Ja­panese as­sess­ment and in a Washington Post story that cited U.S. in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cials and a con­fi­den­tial De­fense In­tel­li­gence Agency re­port. The U.S. now puts the North Korean ar­se­nal at up to 60 nu­clear weapons, more than double most as­sess­ments by in­de­pen­dent ex­perts, ac­cord­ing to the Post’s re­port­ing.

“North Korea had best not make any more threats to the United States,” Trump said. “They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.”

“He has been very threat­en­ing beyond a nor­mal state. And as I said they will be met with fire, fury and frankly power the likes of which this world has never seen be­fore,” he said, ap­par­ently re­fer­ring to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

The re­marks ap­peared scripted, with Trump glanc­ing at a pa­per in front of him. They evoked Pres­i­dent Harry Tru­man’s an­nounce­ment of the U.S. atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Ja­pan, in 1945, in which he warned of “a rain of ruin from the air, the like of which has never been seen on this earth.”

But it wasn’t clear what Trump meant by his threat, and White House of­fi­cials did not elab­o­rate.

Trump sup­port­ers sug­gested he was try­ing to get Kim’s at­ten­tion in a way that the North Korean would un­der­stand, while crit­ics ex­pressed con­cern that he could stum­ble into a war with dev­as­tat­ing con­se­quences.

“This is a more dangerous mo­ment than faced by Trump’s pre­de­ces­sors,” said Mark Dubowitz, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Foun­da­tion for De­fense of Democ­ra­cies, a non­profit group in Washington. “The nor­mal nu­anced diplo­matic rhetoric com­ing out of Washington hasn’t worked in per­suad­ing the Kim regime of Amer­i­can re­solve. This lan­guage un­der­scores that the most pow­er­ful coun­try in the world has its own es­ca­la­tory and re­tal­ia­tory op­tions.”

But Sen. Dianne Fe­in­stein, D- Calif., said it would be coun­ter­pro­duc­tive.

“Pres­i­dent Trump is not help­ing the sit­u­a­tion with his bom­bas­tic com­ments,” she said in a state­ment.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., chair­man of the Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee, also took ex­cep­tion.

“All it’s go­ing to do is bring us closer to some kind of se­ri­ous con­fronta­tion,” he told KTAR News ra­dio.

NUKE MINIA­TUR­IZA­TION

In an an­nual re­port, the De­fense Min­istry in Ja­pan, a key U.S. ally in close prox­im­ity to North Korea, on Tues­day con­cluded that “it is pos­si­ble that North Korea has achieved the minia­tur­iza­tion of nu­clear weapons and has de­vel­oped nu­clear war­heads.”

The Post story, cit­ing un­named U.S. in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cials, went fur­ther. It said the De­fense In­tel­li­gence Agency anal­y­sis, com­pleted last month, as­sessed that North Korea has pro­duced nu­clear weapons for bal­lis­tic mis­sile de­liv­ery, in­clud­ing by in­ter­con­ti­nen­tal mis­siles.

Of­fi­cials at the agency wouldn’t com­ment Tues­day. The Of­fice of the Di­rec­tor of Na­tional In­tel­li­gence also wouldn’t dis­cuss the re­port.

It’s un­clear how North Korea’s new ca­pa­bil­i­ties will af­fect how the U.S. ap­proaches the coun­try’s reg­u­lar mis­sile launches and oc­ca­sional nu­clear tests. The U.S. mil­i­tary has never at­tempted to shoot a North Korean mis­sile out of the sky, deem­ing all pre­vi­ous tests to pose no threat to the United States. The U.S. could weigh mil­i­tary ac­tion if the threat per­cep­tion changes.

The cal­cu­la­tion of North Korea’s nu­clear ar­se­nal at 60 bombs ex­ceeds other as­sess­ments, which range from about 12 to about 30 weapons. The as­sess­ments are typ­i­cally an es­ti­mate of the amount of plu­to­nium and en­riched ura­nium North Korea has in its in­ven­tory rather than how much of that ma­te­rial has been weaponized. It’s un­clear how many, if any, minia­tur­ized war­heads North Korea has built.

North Korea’s long-range tests last month of in­ter­con­ti­nen­tal bal­lis­tic mis­siles high­lighted the grow­ing threat. While those mis­siles landed at sea near Ja­pan, both were fired at highly lofted an­gles. An­a­lysts said the weapons could reach Alaska, Los An­ge­les or Chicago if fired at a nor­mal, flat­tened tra­jec­tory.

North Korea threat­ened to hit Guam with its Hwa­song-12 mis­siles, which it says can carry a heavy nu­clear war­head and, be­fore the two ICBM launches, had demon­strated the long­est po­ten­tial range of the mis­siles test­fired by the North.

Guam’s Home­land Se­cu­rity Ad­viser Ge­orge Char­fau­ros said of­fi­cials there are con­fi­dent “the U.S. Depart­ment of De­fense is mon­i­tor­ing this sit­u­a­tion very closely and is main­tain­ing a con­di­tion of readi­ness.”

Char­fau­ros in his state­ment this morn­ing urged calm and said de­fenses are in place on Guam and its neigh­bor­ing Pa­cific is­lands for threats such as North Korea.

SANC­TIONS AGAINST NORTH

The U.N. Se­cu­rity Coun­cil’s adop­tion this week­end of new, tougher sanc­tions — spear­headed by Washington in re­sponse to last month’s mis­sile tests — fur­ther strained re­la­tions be­tween the U.S. and North Korea.

Back­ers of the res­o­lu­tion said the new sanc­tions would cut North Korea’s mea­ger an­nual ex­port rev­enue by about a third, im­ped­ing its abil­ity to raise cash for its weapons pro­grams.

The sanc­tions ban the im­port of coal, iron, iron ore, lead, lead ore and seafood from North Korea. They also pro­hibit U. N. mem­ber na­tions from host­ing any ad­di­tional work­ers from the North above their cur­rent lev­els. Washington called the re­stric­tions “the most strin­gent set of sanc­tions on any coun­try in a gen­er­a­tion.”

But doubts re­main over how rig­or­ously China and Rus­sia, the North’s two neigh­bor­ing al­lies, will en­force the sanc­tions.

On Twit­ter on Tues­day, Trump sug­gested progress is be­ing made with the co­op­er­a­tion of China and Rus­sia, both of which sup­ported the Se­cu­rity Coun­cil res­o­lu­tion.

“Af­ter many years of fail­ure, coun­tries are com­ing to­gether to fi­nally ad­dress the dan­gers posed by North Korea,” Trump said. “We must be tough & de­ci­sive!”

Even be­fore Trump’s “fire and fury” warn­ing, North Korea’s re­sponse to the sanc­tions on Tues­day in­di­cated that it could con­duct an­other nu­clear or mis­sile test, as it had of­ten done in re­sponse to past United Na­tions sanc­tions.

“Packs of wolves are com­ing in at­tack to stran­gle a na­tion,” the North Korean state­ment said. “They should be mind­ful that the DPRK’s strate­gic steps ac­com­pa­nied by phys­i­cal ac­tion will be taken mer­ci­lessly with the mo­bi­liza­tion of all its na­tional strength,” it added, us­ing the ini­tials for the Demo­cratic Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of Korea.

To North Korea, hav­ing a nu­clear-tipped mis­sile that could strike Amer­ica is a guar­an­tee against in­va­sion by its su­per­power ad­ver­sary.

North Korea be­gan pro­duc­ing fis­sile ma­te­rial for bombs in the early 1990s and con­ducted its first nu­clear test ex­plo­sion in 2006. Four sub­se­quent nu­clear tests, the lat­est a year ago, have ac­cel­er­ated progress on minia­tur­iz­ing a de­vice — some­thing North Korea al­ready claimed it could do. Over that span, mul­ti­ple U. S. pres­i­dents have tried and failed to coax or pres­sure Py­ongyang into aban­don­ing its nu­clear am­bi­tions.

The se­crecy of the North’s nu­clear pro­gram and the un­der­ground na­ture of its test ex­plo­sions make it dif­fi­cult to prop­erly as­sess its claims. But the new as­sess­ments from Ja­pan and the U.S. sug­gest that doubts over the North’s abil­i­ties are re­ced­ing.

AP/EVAN VUCCI

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump said Tues­day that “North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States.”

AP

A photo dis­trib­uted by the North Korean gov­ern­ment shows what was said to be the launch of an in­ter­con­ti­nen­tal bal­lis­tic mis­sile on July 28. An­a­lysts said the mis­sile has the ca­pa­bil­ity to reach Alaska, Los An­ge­les or Chicago if fired at a nor­mal, flat­tened tra­jec­tory, and re­ports Tues­day in­di­cated North Korea can now pack­age the mis­sile with a nu­clear war­head.

AP

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un waves at the pass­ing troops dur­ing a mil­i­tary pa­rade in Py­ongyang on April 15. The North Korean army said in a state­ment to­day that it is con­sid­er­ing cre­at­ing an “en­velop­ing fire” in ar­eas around Guam with medium- to long-range bal­lis­tic mis­siles.

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