(NationalSentinel) North Korea: The United States – and, based on a report Thursday, the Chinese – appear to have come to an agreement over the fate of North Korea: If leader Kim Jong-un attempts a sixth nuclear test, he may be attacked.
As NBC News reports, the Pentagon is set to launch a preemptive strike against Pyongyang’s nuclear facilities, most likely, should the regime try to conduct another test. It’s been widely reported that North Korea may be preparing for just such a test as the country gears up to celebrate the birth of its founder and Kim’s grandfather, Kim il-Sung, this weekend:
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.
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.
As we reported yesterday, it’s also possible that an Ohio-class Tomahawk missile submarine, with its compliment of 154 missiles, is also in the region, given comments that President Donald J. Trump made in an interview with Fox Business earlier this week and separate reports in Russian media.
As expected, the U.S. and South Korea are anticipating that any strike on North Korea will provoke an angry response. “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.”
“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.”
“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 Trump White House.
The president has tweeted repeatedly since his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping last weekend that if Beijing does not act to reign in its belligerent neighbor, he would take care of the problem.
NBC News also reports that Trump and Xi have spoken twice this week, and that China has sent its top nuclear negotiators to North Korea to communicate the seriousness of the situation.
As we reported, China has also appeared to have drawn it’s own line in the sand regarding North Korea:
An editorial published by the Chinese government-run Global Times warned of a “bottom line” (not a ‘red line’) that the North Koreans should not cross, lest Pyongyang face the wrath of Beijing’s military:
“China has a bottom line that it will protect at all costs, that is, the security and stability of northeast China… If the bottom line is touched, China will employ all means available including the military means to strike back. By that time, it is not an issue of discussion whether China acquiesces in the US’ blows, but the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) will launch attacks to DPRK nuclear facilities on its own.”
Any attack on North Korea would likely not be limited just to its nuclear facilities. The pieces in place – aircraft, strategic bombers, Tomahawk missiles, and ground forces in South Korea – mean the Pentagon also has the firepower to destroy the North’s formidable artillery and ground force. The only unknowns are North Korea’s 50-odd submarines, some of which have been upgraded in recent years.
The U.S. and China appear to be on the same page now regarding North Korea. The missiles could start flying this weekend, depending on what Kim does.