U.S. May Launch Strike if North Korea Reaches for Nuclear Trigger

The U.S. is prepared to launch a preemptive strike with conventional weapons against North Korea should officials become convinced that North Korea is about to follow through with a nuclear weapons test, multiple senior U.S. intelligence officials told NBC News.

North Korea has warned that a “big event” is near, and U.S. officials say signs point to a nuclear test that could come as early as this weekend.

Play
Exclusive: US Considers Possible Strike to Stop North Korea Nuke Test 2:54

The intelligence officials told NBC News that the U.S. has positioned two destroyers capable of shooting Tomahawk cruise missiles in the region, one just 300 miles from the North Korean nuclear test site.

American heavy bombers are also positioned in Guam to attack North Korea should it be necessary, and earlier this week, the Pentagon announced that the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier strike group was being diverted to the area.

Related: Trump’s Options for North Korea Include Placing Nukes in South Korea

The U.S. strike could include missiles and bombs, cyber and special operations on the ground.

The danger of such an attack by the U.S. is that it could provoke the volatile and unpredictable North Korean regime to launch its own blistering attack on its southern neighbor.

“The leadership in North Korea has shown absolutely no sign or interest in diplomacy or dialogue with any of the countries involved in this issue,” Victor Cha, the Korea Chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies told NBC News Thursday.

Play
Exclusive: NSC Presents Pres. Trump With Military Options on North Korea 2:54

On Wednesday, North Korea said it would “hit the U.S. first” with a nuclear weapon should there be any signs of U.S. strikes.

On Thursday, North Korea warned of a “merciless retaliatory strike” should the U.S. take any action.

Related: North Korea Warns It Would Use Nuclear Weapons First If Threatened

“By relentlessly bringing in a number of strategic nuclear assets to the Korean peninsula, the U.S. is gravely threatening the peace and safety and driving the situation to the brink of a nuclear war,” said North Korea’s statement.

North Korea is not believed to have a deliverable long-range nuclear weapon, according to U.S. experts, nor does it yet possess an intercontinental missile.

PHOTOS: North Korea Prepares for Holiday as Tensions Escalate

South Korea’s top diplomat said today that the U.S. would consult with Seoul before taking any serious measures. “U.S. officials, mindful of such concerns here, repeatedly reaffirmed that (the U.S.) will closely discuss with South Korea its North Korea-related measures,” Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se told a special parliamentary meeting. “In fact, the U.S. is working to reassure us that it will not, just in case that we might hold such concerns.”

U.S. Officials Are Aware of the Risk

“Two things are coming together this weekend,” said retired Adm. James Stavridis, former commander of NATO and an NBC analyst. “One is the distinct possibility of a sixth North Korean nuclear weapons detonation and the other is an American carrier strike group, a great deal of firepower headed right at the Korean Peninsula.”

The U.S. is aware that simply preparing an attack, even if it will only be launched if there is an “imminent” North Korean action, increases the danger of provoking a large conflict, multiple sources told NBC News.

“It’s high stakes,” a senior intelligence official directly involved in the planning told NBC News. “We are trying to communicate our level of concern and the existence of many military options to dissuade the North first.”

“It’s a feat that we’ve never achieved before but there is a new sense of resolve here,” the official said, referring to the White House.

Related: China Proposes Deal To Ease Tensions Over North Korean Missiles

The threat of a preemptive strike comes on the same day the U.S. announced the use of its MOAB — or Mother of All Bombs — in Afghanistan, attacking underground facilities, and on the heels of U.S. missile strikes on a Syrian airbase last week, a strike that took place while President Trump was meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago.

Image: North Korean soldiers turn and look towards leader Kim Jong Un as they carry packs marked with the nuclear symbol
North Korean soldiers look towards Kim Jong Un at a parade in Pyongyang in 2013 marking the 60th anniversary of the Korean War armistice. Wong Maye-E / AP file

Multiple government officials familiar with the situation say President Trump has talked to Chinese president Xi twice about North Korea since their Florida summit.

China has since sent its top nuclear negotiators to Pyongyang to communicate the gravity of the situation to the North, officials say. On Wednesday, President Xi called for a peaceful resolution to the escalating tensions.

Moscow has weighed in as well: “We are gravely concerned about Washington’s plans regarding North Korea, considering hints about the unilateral use of a military scenario” the Putin government said in a press release issued on Tuesday.

South Korea Must Sign Off

Implementation of the preemptive U.S. plans, according to multiple U.S. officials, depends centrally on consent of the South Korean government. The sources stress that Seoul has got to be persuaded that action is worth the risk, as there is universal concern that any military move might provoke a North Korean attack, even a conventional attack across the DMZ.

Tensions have escalated on the Korean Peninsula, as this Saturday marks the anniversary of the birth of the nation’s founder — Kim il-Sung, grandfather of the current leader, Kim Jong-un. At the highest levels in South Korea and the U.S., sources told NBC News, there are fears North Korea could mark the “Day of the Sun” by testing a nuclear device.

More: http://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/u-s-may-launch-strike-if-north-korea-reaches-nuclear-n746366

2 thoughts on “U.S. May Launch Strike if North Korea Reaches for Nuclear Trigger

  1. While the potential for the situation in Korea to go nuclear is a serious threat, I wouldn’t trust this article. “NBC exclusive” from “U.S. intelligence officials” translates as unsubstantiated rumors spread by the CIA, which no reputable news organization will touch.
    As the vast majority of Democrats line up behind Trump’s militarism, with the minor criticism that he shouldn’t insist on taking all the credit, (MS)NBC tabloid journalism is barely distinguishable from Fox.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The despicable White Supremacist, Militaristic, Anti-Environmental Trump bunch cannot control themselves, as Trump himself is like a 5 yr old, spoiled-rotten child, who must have his way–at all costs—even an All-Out Nuclear confrontation. We are very close to nuclear destruction at this point—but think of the positive aspect—it will certainly cancel out planetary warming!!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: