Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Monday that American forces stationed in South Korea need to be prepared to “fight tonight” given the nuclear threat from North Korea.
The North Korean regime of Kim Jong-un is spending hundreds of millions of dollars to develop nuclear weapons and missiles at the same time the government is begging international aid groups to provide flood relief.
North Korea will have enough material for about 20 nuclear bombs by the end of this year, with ramped-up uranium enrichment facilities and an existing stockpile of plutonium, according to new assessments by weapons experts.
North Korea conducted its fifth and biggest nuclear test on Friday and said it had mastered the ability to mount a warhead on a ballistic missile, ratcheting up a threat that its rivals and the United Nations have been powerless to contain.
There is a tendency for western media to treat Air Koryo, North Korea’s only “commercial” airline, as an opportunity for humor. The fact that it has been named the world’s worst airline by an industry group for four straight years plays a role in the company’s attractiveness as a butt for jokes, as do the propaganda films that play on its small fleet of Tupolev and Antonov jets (there is no volume control) and the mystery meat burgers served by its flight attendants.
But Air Koryo is no joke. It is an arm of the Kim family’s military-gangster complex, implicated in smuggling cash for Pyongyang’s slave labor enterprises, and has been implicated in weapons trafficking.
North Korea fired a submarine-launched missile on Wednesday that flew about 500 km (311 miles) towards Japan, a show of improving technological capability for the isolated country that has conducted a series of launches in defiance of U.N. sanctions.
North Korea warned Monday that it would launch a preemptive nuclear attack against the U.S. and South Korea if they showed the “slightest sign of aggression” toward Pyongyang while conducting their annual military drills.
North Korea says it has resumed plutonium production by reprocessing spent fuel rods and has no plans to stop nuclear tests as long as perceived U.S. threats remain, Japan’s Kyodo news agency reported on Wednesday.
Thae Yong-ho, a top North Korean diplomat at the embassy in London, has defected to South Korea, the South Korean government announced on Wednesday.
Foreign states are developing high-speed, maneuvering missiles, and the Pentagon and U.S. Pacific Command want weapons to counter them, a leading defense contractor involved in missile defense said Monday.