Nuclear tests and preemptive strikes: fears grow over North Korea escalation

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe warned Thursday that North Korea may be capable of firing a missile loaded with sarin nerve gas toward Japan, as global concern mounted that a missile or nuclear test by the authoritarian state could be imminent.

North Korea's vice foreign minister on Friday blamed President Donald Trump for escalating tensions on the Korean Peninsula through his tweets and expansion of military exercises, saying the USA was becoming "more vicious and more aggressive" under his leadership than it had been under President Barack Obama.

Han said: "We certainly will not keep our arms crossed in the face of a USA pre-emptive strike". North Korea's has used US' military exercises in the regions as means of galvanizing its people, claiming that the exercises are dress rehearsals for impending invasion.

Later Friday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said all sides must stop provoking and threatening and start taking a flexible approach to resuming dialogue.

Han said: "We are comparing Trump's policy toward the DPRK with the former administrations and we have concluded that it's becoming more vicious and more aggressive". Let's just hope we make it through the weekend without nuclear war.

Lu Kang, a spokesperson for the foreign ministry, said the region was now facing a "complex and sensitive" moment and urged North Korea and the U.S. to "avoid provoking each other or adding fuel to the fire".

However, a senior Trump administration official described as "flat wrong" an NBC News report citing senior US intelligence officials as saying the United States is prepared to launch a pre-emptive conventional weapons strike should officials be convinced North Korea is about to follow through with a nuclear weapons test. Scores of foreign reporters have been allowed into Pyongyang to cover celebrations marking the105th anniversary of Kim's birth, but they have not been granted access to military-related sites.

North Korea is now preparing for its biggest national holiday.

In another tweet, he sought to persuade Xi to put pressure on North Korea in exchange for a good trade deal with the US.

Beijing says it will not countenance measures that could bring about a collapse of the regime that could release a flood of refugees across its border, destabilize northeast Asia and result in a USA -friendly government taking power in Pyongyang.

Concerns are also growing that Washington may make a pre-emptive strike against the North to counter its possible provocations. "However, because of Trump's unpredictability, it is hard to predict his policy toward the region".

In a Wall Street Journal interview, Trump said a recent meeting with China's President Xi Jinping dissuaded him of the notion that Beijing could compel North Korea to change course. "I felt pretty strongly that they had a tremendous power" over North Korea. "If they are unable to do so, the United States, with its allies, will!" he wrote on Twitter.

On Tuesday, North Korea warned of a nuclear attack on the United States at any sign of American aggression. North Korea's military is also heavily dug in, meaning it could be hard to find and destroy key targets, or to secure the North's nuclear weapons even if its leadership were attacked. Every male in the country is required to undertake some form of military training and can be called to serve at any time.

Tensions are deepening as the U.S. has sent an aircraft carrier to waters off the peninsula and is conducting its biggest-ever joint military exercises with South Korea.

Trump has repeatedly said he will prevent Pyongyang from developing a nuclear-tipped ballistic missile capable of reaching the United States. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe gestures while speaking at a parliamentary panel on national security and diplomacy at parliament's upper house in Tokyo Thursday, April 13, 2017.

"North Korea is looking for trouble".

Han blamed the US for the rising tensions.

The radio announcer referred to the numbers as "review works in elementary information technology lessons of the remote education university for No. 27 expedition agents", according to Yonhap.

  • Leroy Wright