President Trump threatened to launch air and naval strikes against Pyongyang if dictator Kim Jong-un conducted another nuclear test yesterday during celebrations marking the 105th anniversary of the regime’s founder, Kim Il-Sung.
It would be the first conventional military attack by the US since the Korean War in 1950.
Kim Jong-un responded by threatening a “pre-emptive strike”, with Seoul and its 10 million population within easy striking distance.
North Korean parade marking the 105th birth anniversary of country's founding father, Kim Il Sung
North Korean soldiers march during a military parade
Why is there so much tension now?
North Korea has for years has been trying to develop an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile capable of delivering nuclear warheads as far away as California.
It is getting better every year.
What nuclear capacity does it possess?
North Korea has conducted five nuclear tests: atomic bomb tests in 2006, 2009, 2013 and two more powerful hydrogen bomb tests in 2016.
One test had an explosive yield of 10-30 kilotonnes. The atomic bomb on Hiroshima in the Second World War was 15 kilotonnes.
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North Korea has begun preparing festivities for the 'Day of the Sun,' a holiday celebrating communist leader Kim Il-Sung
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Military officers visit the birthplace of North Korean founder Kim Il Sung, a day before the 105th anniversary of his birth, in Mangyongdae, just outside Pyongyang
North Korean military vehicles on parade in Pyongyang
Can Kim Jong-un launch nuclear missiles?
Yesterday’s military parade in Pyongyang displayed new long range ICBN canisters, as well as its medium range submarine launched ballistic missile and a land based version.
The shorter range ballistic missiles displayed are a threat to South Korea, Japan and other Asian nations.
However, there is no proof Pyongyang has been able to successfully miniaturise warheads to attach them to missiles.
What does Kim Jong-un want?
His aim is for North Korea to be taken seriously as a nuclear power, like the US, Britain, Russia and India.
But Kim Jong-un’s unpredictability and volatility, combined with no checks and balances to his actions, make him a dangerous man to have a finger on the nuclear button.
Trump threatened to attack North Korea if it conducted another nuclear test
What does President Trump want?
Trump sees an opportunity to end decades of stalemate over the North Korean issue, and recent strikes in Syria and Afghanistan shows he means business.
President Obama came close. Sources claim the State Department is in “panic mode” that Pyongyang will successfully develop a long range missile with nuclear warhead within the first Trump administration.
What is the US doing?
Trump diverted the US aircraft carrier Carl Vinson, two destroyers, a guided missile cruiser and submarine to the Sea of Japan after Kim Jong-un tested a missile last week.
He has also hinted at plans to “eliminate” the dictator.
North Korean soldiers march to their positions prior to a military parade
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A North Korean student swings on a bar in a school in Pyongyang, North Korea
What about China?
Beijing stopped importing coal, an important export for the regime, but Trump has little chance of persuading North Korea’s only ally to take action against Kim Jong-un, due to China’s concern of a unified Korea allied with the US.
Will Kim Jong-un push the nuclear button?
While he is unpredictable, the consensus is his highest aim is to protect and preserve his regime.
That remains one of the best assurances for South Korea and the West.