Trump's North Korea nuke comment a tad after the fact?

2017-01-03 16:15
(Evan Vucci, AP)

(Evan Vucci, AP)

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Seoul - US president-elect Donald Trump took to Twitter to vow that North Korea won't develop a nuclear weapon capable of reaching parts of the United States. But it might already have done so.

Views vary, sometimes wildly, on the exact state of North Korea's closely guarded nuclear and missile programmes, but after five atomic test explosions and a rising number of ballistic missile test launches, some experts believe North Korea can arm short- and mid-range missiles with atomic warheads.

That would allow Pyongyang to threaten US forces stationed in Asia and add teeth to its threat last year to use nuclear weapons to "sweep Guam, the base of provocations, from the surface of the earth."

Guam is a strategically important US territory in the Pacific. Some experts see the US mainland as potentially within reach in as little as five years if North Korea's nuclear progress isn't stopped.

Nuclear programme

Trump's tweet on Monday night US time was in response to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who said on Sunday in his annual New Year's address that preparations for launching an intercontinental ballistic missile have "reached the final stage". He did not explicitly say a test was imminent.

Trump tweeted, "North Korea just stated that it is in the final stages of developing a nuclear weapon capable of reaching parts of the US. It won't happen!"

Trump counsellor Kellyanne Conway said on MSNBC that the world should be grateful Trump told millions of people that, where the North Korean threat is concerned, "he intends to stop it".

North Korea, poor, suspicious of outsiders and governed by a third-generation dictator, is used to being underestimated and mocked. Few believed it could build a nuclear programme that would keep US presidents since the early 1990s up at night.

Armed to the teeth, acutely bellicose and not afraid to push tensions on the Korean Peninsula to the brink, Pyongyang could be among Trump's top foreign policy challenges.


Read more on:    donald trump  |  north korea  |  us  |  military

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