Tension between the U.S. and North Korea escalated sharply Tuesday after President Trump suggested he was prepared to start a nuclear war, threatening to unleash “fire and fury” against North Korea.
President Donald Trump: “North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen. He has been very threatening, beyond a normal statement. And as I said, they will be met with fire, fury and, frankly, power, the likes of which this world has never seen before. Thank you.”
Hours later, North Korea threatened to strike the U.S. territory of Guam in the western Pacific. Guam is home to 163,000 people as well as multiple major U.S. military bases. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is traveling to Guam today amid the escalating tensions. In response to the threats, China has called on all sides to de-escalate their rhetoric, with the China Ministry of Foreign Affairs issuing a statement encouraging the U.S. and North Korea to “avoid remarks and actions that could aggravate conflicts and escalate tensions.”
The threat of nuclear war between the U.S. and North Korea has been escalating in recent weeks. Over the weekend, the U.N. Security Council imposed a new round of sanctions against North Korea over its test launches of two intercontinental ballistic missiles last month. The sanctions ban North Korean exports of coal, iron, lead and seafood, which could slash up to one-third of the country’s export revenue.
Meanwhile, The Washington Post reported Tuesday North Korea has successfully produced a miniaturized nuclear warhead that can fit inside its missiles. The Post said the finding was made by U.S. intelligence officials in a confidential assessment. In North Korea on Tuesday, residents spoke out against the sanctions and threats by the United States.
Kim Yong Kun: “The so-called big countries, which have fabricated the sanctions, are the ones who have conducted most of the nuclear tests and test launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles whenever they want. We cannot ever accept such illegal resolution, which are trying to incriminate the development of our self-defensive nuclear force.”
This morning, North Korea also released imprisoned Canadian pastor Hyeon Soo Lim, who was the longest-held Western prisoner in North Korea.
The escalating tension comes as, in Japan, residents marked the 72nd anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombings of Nagasaki on August 9, 1945, and Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. Over the weekend, nearly 50,000 residents and world leaders gathered to mark the anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing, which killed 140,000 people. This is Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui, calling for dialogue to avoid nuclear war.
Mayor Kazumi Matsui: “The government should work in earnest to act as a bridge between nuclear and non-nuclear states and manifest the pacifism which is upheld in Japan’s Constitution, so that the ratification of a nuclear weapons convention can be promoted.”
We’ll have more on the rising tensions between the U.S. and North Korea after headlines.