Tensions on the Korean peninsula continued to escalates this week, as North Korea warned it was considering striking the United States even if the U.S. doesn’t attack first.
“In the case of our super-mighty preemptive strike being launched, it will completely and immediately wipe out not only U.S. imperialists’ invasion forces in South Korea and its surrounding areas but the U.S. mainland and reduce them to ashes,” The Rodong Sinmun, an official state paper, warned.
The statement came merely hours after U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said that an “era of strategic patience” with North Korea was over and the same week that U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the United States would not continue the same strategy from the past.
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“We’re reviewing all the status of North Korea, both in terms of state sponsorship of terrorism as well as the other ways in which we can bring pressure on the regime in Pyongyang to re-engage with us, but re-engage with us on a different footing than past talks have been held,” Tillerson said.
Meanwhile, China’s military has placed its bombers “on high alert” and is prepared to respond to any military activity in North Korea, a U.S. defense official told CNN. The goal likely is to “reduce the time to react to a North Korea contingency,” the official said
China has two concerns: 1) refugees from North Korea fleeing across the border to China, and, 2) North Korea collapsing and reunifying with South Korea.
In 2015, 83 percent of North Korea’s exports and 85 percent of its imports involved China.
It isn’t known how many nuclear weapons North Korea, a very reclusive nation, has. The U.S.-Korea Institute said in a 2016 report that North Korea possesses “enough fissile material to build anywhere from six to about 30 nuclear weapons.” China in 2015 said North Korea has 20 nuclear weapons, and a U.S. Congressional report said between six and 10.
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