U.S. analysts believe North Korea has been able to miniaturize a nuclear warhead that could be mounted on an intercontinental missile for the first time.
By Gabrielle Levy, Political Reporter | Aug. 8, 2017, at 4:47 p.m.
President Donald Trump escalated his warning to North Korea following reports that the country has managed to miniaturize a nuclear warhead that could be fitted to a missile, promising “fire and fury” in response to further escalation.
“North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States,” Trump said, speaking from his resort in Bedminster, New Jersey, on Tuesday afternoon. “They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.”
Trump added that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un “has been very threatening beyond a normal state, and as I said they will be met with fire and fury and frankly power, the likes of which this world has never seen before.”
Trump’s comments came after The Washington Post reported that U.S. intelligence analysts believe North Korea is now for the first time able to produce a warhead that could be fitted to a missile.
North Korea has dramatically ramped up its weapons programs testing since Trump took office, hitting several significant milestones in recent months that make their ability to launch a strike on U.S. soil much more plausible.
Last month, the U.S. confirmed that North Korea for the first time had launched an intercontinental ballistic missile that had the range to strike Alaska. While acknowledging the feat as a major advancement for Pyongyang, experts said at the time that North Korea could still be a year or more away from mastering the technology that could threaten the U.S. – developing a warhead to fit onto the tip of such a missile, separate it from the missile and complete a guided reentry toward a target.
The United Nations Security Council on Saturday unanimously approved new sanctionsagainst North Korea. Those new sanctions were on top of additional U.S. sanctions approved by Congress last month and signed by Trump.
On Monday, North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho insisted the new sanctions would not result in halting his country’s nuclear ambitions.
“We will, under no circumstances, put the nukes and ballistic rockets on the negotiating table,” Ri said at the regional ASEAN conference in Manila, according a statement released by the country’s mission to the U.N.
North Korea “will make the U.S. pay dearly for all the heinous crimes it commits against the state and people of this country,” the statement said, adding a “stern warning to the U.S.” not to believe “its land is safe across the ocean.”
Pyongyang says its nuclear program is no threat to the world, but rather “a legitimate option for self-defense in the face of a clear and real nuclear threat posed by the U.S.”
Still, U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley said Tuesday that while the sanctions may not halt North Korea’s nuclear experimentation, they would force Kim to rethink his “endgame.”
“He has to decide,” she told NBC’s “Today” show. “If he strikes the United States, is that something he can win?”