In a back and forth that may feel awfully familiar, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made a statement to reporters at the State Department on Thursday regarding applying pressure to North Korea in an effort to convince them to do away with plans for establishing a nuclear arsenal with long-range capabilities – and North Korea has responded with yet another threat of preemptive nuclear strikes.

North Korea has been in the spotlight recently, as their traditionally aggressive rhetoric is now coupled with fledgling nuclear capabilities that could eventually make them a real and serious threat to the safety and wellbeing of American citizens right here at home in the mainland United States.  Repeated missile tests have demonstrated that North Korea is technically able to reach American military installations in South Korea and Japan with nuke-capable medium range ballistic missiles.  Although a number of their tests thus far have ended in failure, it’s important to note that some have been successful – and it only takes one to start a nuclear war.

On Thursday, however, Tillerson added a new element to ongoing concerns over North Korean aggression: the possibility that they could be funding terrorism.

“We’re reviewing all of the status of North Korea, both in terms of state sponsorship of terrorism as well as all the other ways in which we can bring pressure to bear on the regime in Pyongyang to re-engage, but re-engage with us on a different footing than the past talks have been held. So yes, we are evaluating all of those options,” Tillerson told reporters at the State Department.

North Korea had previously been on the official list of states that sponsor terrorism, but was removed in 2008 by the Bush administration.  The removal was not necessarily based on a reform in their internal policies, but rather as a part of a negotiation meant to disable North Korea’s plutonium plant and allow inspectors to verify its nuclear program had been halted.

It has now become apparent that North Korea did not honor the terms of that agreement, so placing their name back on the state sponsors of terror list should not come as much of a surprise to Kim’s North Korean regime.  However, North Korea took the opportunity to respond by threatening to launch a “super-mighty” preemptive strike against the United States in South Korea, Japan, and even at home.

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“In the case of our super-mighty preemptive strike being launched, it will completely and immediately wipe out not only U.S. imperialists’ invasion forces in South Korea and its surrounding areas but the U.S. mainland and reduce them to ashes,” the State-owned Rodong Sinmun newspaper read after Tillerson’s comments went to press.

Although the addition of the phrase “super-mighty” is new, the rest of this statement has been mirrored in a number of threats levied by the North Korean government over the years, but many in the international community have taken to reading such threats with a bit more anxiety since Kim’s regime began atomic bomb testing.  Some fear Kim may finally start to follow through on his threats once he has enough firepower behind him to do some real damage.

As a result, pressure is building to find a way to remove nuclear weapons from the equation, with President Trump making it clear in the media that he’s willing to take unilateral action to do so, but seeking cooperation with other nations, to include economic and political rival, China – who is North Korea’s most powerful and influential ally.

“Allowing this dictator to have that kind of power is not something that civilized nations can allow to happen,” U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan summed up the majority of international consensus during a recent trip to London.

It would seem that North Korea is becoming increasingly isolated due to Kim’s unrelenting effort to possess the most powerful weapon man has ever created – but as his nation’s already struggling economy begins to suffer under increased sanctions being enforced by the likes of China, most of the world is hoping he changes his tune.  Military action is certainly a possibility, but the result of such a strike is a relative unknown as compared to a conclusion that sees Kim willingly relinquishing his WMDs.

At least thus far, he seems to remain steadfast in his goal – which may end up costing him, and his nation, dearly.

 

Image courtesy of Daily Express