Kim Jong-un’s North Korean regime again threatened the United States with a nuclear strike on Tuesday, this time stating that they would use their nuclear arsenal in response to any attempt to remove Kim from power.

In a statement issued through KCNA, North Korea’s state-owned media outlet, the nation claimed it would strike the U.S. mainland with a nuclear ICBM – something experts are not currently certain they have the capability to do.

The DPRK legally stipulates that if the supreme dignity of the DPRK is threatened, it must preemptively annihilate those countries and entities that are directly or indirectly involved in it, by mobilizing all kinds of strike means including the nuclear ones,” their foreign ministry spokesman said.

“Should the US dare to show even the slightest sign of attempt to remove our supreme leadership, we will strike a merciless blow at the heart of the US with our powerful nuclear hammer, honed and hardened over time.”

This statement comes days after CIA Director Mike Pompeo seemed to indicate a potential shift in U.S. strategy, wherein instead of simply pursuing a denuclearized Korean peninsula, he appeared to indicate that the Trump administration may be leaning toward removing the dictator from power.

It would be a great thing to denuclearize the peninsula, to get those weapons off of that, but the thing that is most dangerous about it is the character who holds the control over them today,” Pompeo said to a crowd at the Aspen Security Forum last week. “So from the administration’s perspective, the most important thing we can do is separate those two. Right? Separate capacity and someone who might well have intent and break those two apart.”

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“As for the regime, I am hopeful we will find a way to separate that regime from this system,” Pompeo said. “The North Korean people I’m sure are lovely people and would love to see him go.”

At the beginning of this month, North Korea conducted a test launch of their most advanced ballistic missile to date.  Although the huge missile traveled only 578 miles in total before splashing down in the sea between North Korea and Japan, its 37-minute flight time indicates that it is capable of covering distances in excess of 4,000 miles.  While that range isn’t sufficient to strike America’s “heartland,” it is more than enough to reach Alaska.

North Korea’s recent test of an intercontinental range ballistic missile — which was not a surprise to the Intelligence Community — is one of the milestones that we have expected would help refine our timeline and judgments on the threats that Kim Jong-un poses to the continental United States,” Scott Bray, the national intelligence manager for East Asia for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, said in a prepared statement earlier this week.

“This test, and its impact on our assessments, highlight the threat that North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs pose to the United States, to our allies in the region, and to the whole world.”

While many in the intelligence community and federal government have questioned whether or not Kim Jong-un actually possesses the ability to arm a ballistic missile with a nuclear warhead, or the ability to reliably deliver that warhead as far away as the American mainland, some prominent officials have begun changing their tune.

Last week, Air Force Gen. Paul J. Selva, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told lawmakers that North Korea may already possess the capabilities needed to conduct a nuclear strike on U.S. soil.  According to him, the most recent test stopped just short of demonstrating “the capacity to strike the United States with any degree of accuracy or reasonable confidence of success.”

 

Image courtesy of North Korean KCNA