Is North Korea a threat and ready for war? Weapons, nuclear threat, Kim Jong-un and more
Pyongyang has slammed ‘reckless moves’ by the US and pledged to defend the North Korea from invasion ‘by powerful force of arms’, according to state media.
A Foreign Ministry spokesman was quoted as saying: “We will hold the US wholly accountable for the catastrophic consequences to be entailed by its outrageous actions.”
Tensions have escalated rapidly after a US Navy strike group was deployed towards the Korean peninsula soon after the US bombing of a Syrian airbase.
North Korea's official Rodong Sinmun newspaper has said the isolated country's military is prepared to respond to any aggression by the United States.
"Our revolutionary strong army is keenly watching every move by enemy elements with our nuclear sight focused on the US invasionary bases, not only in South Korea and the Pacific operation theatre but also in the US mainland," it said.
North Korea convened a Supreme People's Assembly session on Tuesday, while missile tests could be used to mark the 105th anniversary of the birth of Kim Il-sung on Saturday.
The current leader Kim Jong-un has a reputation for being dangerously erratic leader and the nation’s nuclear weapons programme is seen as a major threat to world peace.
Former MI6 head Sir John Sawers has warned that tensions with North Korea are actually a much bigger threat to world peace than the war in Syria.
“If you are looking for a world crisis which could bring about the dangers of a clash between great powers then North Korea is a bigger concern than Syria,” he told BBC Four’s Today programme.
But the show of force by America masks the fact the US has limited options in dealing with North Korea because any missile strike could escalate to nuclear war.
Instead of going down the military route, Donald Trump encouraged Chinese President Xi Jinping to tighten pressure on the regime during a summit in Flordia last week.
But China and South Korea have agreed to slap tougher sanctions on North Korea if the country carries out nuclear or long-range missile tests, according to an official in Seoul.
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South Korean officials have tried to quell fears over impending security crisis or outbreak of war.
"We'd like to ask precaution so as not to get blinded by exaggerated assessment about the security situation on the Korean peninsula," Defence Ministry spokesman Moon Sang-kyun said.
Political risk consultancy Eurasia has warned that North Korean aggression is one of the biggest geopolitical threats facing the world this year.
An Eurasia forecast, released at the start of the year, said: “The North Koreans have substantially advanced their nuclear and missile programs and are set to expand them further.
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Since 2008, photographer Eric Lafforgue ventured to North Korea six times. Thanks to digital memory cards, he was able to save photos that was forbidden to take inside the segregated state
Eric Lafforgue/Exclusivepix Medi
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“The hermit kingdom may have enough fissile material for some 20 nuclear weapons.
“It's getting closer to mastering warhead miniaturization technology, and thus possessing an intercontinental ballistic missile capability that could strike the West Coast of the US with a nuclear weapon.”
It warned that the Mr Trump could decide ramp up coercive action against North Korea without Beijing’s backing, leading to a “crisis in US-China relations”.