What you need to know about the continuing North Korea nuclear situation

What you need to know about the continuing North Korea nuclear situation
North Korea's threats to the U.S. and its allies have continued to escalate and now threats of war have been exchanged. Here's what you need to know about the situation between the U.S. and North Korea. (Getty Images)

Since the last explanation of what you need to know about the worsening situation in North Korea, things have deteriorated even further. And tensions between communist North Korea and the United States have grown as President Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump exchange threats.

With reports that Pyongyang now has the ability to strike the continental United States with an intercontinental ballistic missile, Tuesday’s revelation that the Kim regime has developed a nuclear warhead small enough to fit on a missile, and Trump’s declaration that any further threats from the Hermit Kingdom will result in “fire and fury,” the U.S. seems closer to war with North Korea than at any time since the July 1953 armistice halted the fighting in the Korean War. Here’s what you need to know about the situation with North Korea, and the possibility of war.

WHEN LAST WE LEFT OFF

  • On July 4, North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un personally oversaw the launch of a Hwasong-14 ICBM, hailing it as a “gift” to the “American bastards.” North Korea claimed the missile could reach as far as Hawaii or Alaska and that it was in response to Trump saying a North Korean missile would never make it to American soil. (TheBlaze — July 4)
  • The following day, the U.S. and South Korea launched a joint precision-guided missile test to show the possibility of “a precision strike at the enemy leadership.” The U.S. also released spy footage of Kim Jong Un walking around the Hwasong-14 launch site on July 4 to the North Koreans with the express purpose of sending the message to Kim that he could die at the hands of the U.S. at any time. Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, commander of American forces in Seoul warned North Korea that the only thing stopping the U.S. from going to war is “self-restraint. (TheBlaze — July 5)
  • During a speech in Poland, Trump said that he is prepared to do some “very severe things” to North Korea over its “very bad behavior.” Meanwhile, U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley informed the U.N. Security Council that the U.S. was drafting a resolution that raises the international response against North Korea, but warned that the U.S. is willing to take other measures if diplomacy fails. Haley said we will use our “considerable military forces” if we must. (The Guardian — July 6)

OFFERS OF PEACE IGNORED

  • Russia blocked a U.N. resolution calling for “significant measures” in response to North Korea’s ICMB test. Moscow said that it could not confirm if the missile test was an ICBM or not. (Washington Times — July 6)
  • South Korea’s Unification Ministry offered to conduct military peace talks with North Korea. (The Korean Times — July 17)
  • After a few days of silence, North Korea’s state-run newspaper, the Rodong Sinmun, released an article lambasting South Korea for offering peace talks while they threaten military action. Regardless, South Korea said there is no deadline on the offer of peace talks. (TheBlaze — July 20)
  • Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said during an interview with NBC’s Andrea Mitchell that the U.S. hoped for peace over the next few months but would not attempt to attain peace forever. Dunford said that a nuclear North Korea would be “unimaginable” and stated that he would develop military options to make sure that wouldn’t happen. (TheBlaze — July 22)
  • During an interview with Pyongyang’s state-run Korean Central News Agency, a North Korean foreign ministry spokesman said, “Should the U.S. 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 U.S. with our powerful nuclear hammer, honed and hardened over time.” (TheBlaze — July 25)
  • Intelligence officials said they believed that Pyongyang was planning another ICBM test after the North Korean military was seen transporting equipment necessary for launching an ICBM from the western city of Kusong. (TheBlaze — July 25)

NORTH KOREA UPS THE ANTE

  • The intelligence officials were proved correct days later when North Korea tested another Hwasong-14 ICBM. The missile landed in the East Sea off the coast of Japan, sending both South Korean and Japanese officials into emergency meetings. (TheBlaze — July 28)
  • In response, South Korea and the U.S. conduct another joint precision missile test. (Business Insider — July 28)
  • Secretary of State Rex Tillerson condemned the launch and laid the blame of North Korea’s continued advancement of the communist state’s missile program on Russia and China, saying “as the principal economic enablers of North Korea’s nuclear weapon and ballistic missile development program, China and Russia bear unique and special responsibility for this growing threat to regional and global stability.” (State Department — July 28)
  • Trump verbally blasted China on Twitter for their soft-handed approach to reigning in North Korea. (Twitter — July 29)
  • Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced that he and Trump agreed to take further actions against North Korea after the latest ICBM test. Both leaders agreed to “take all necessary measures to protect” Japan. (TheBlaze — July 30)
  • In light of threats against Alaska from North Korea, the U.S. military successfully conducted a test of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system over Alaska. The system is meant to intercept missiles out of the air, destroying them before they can reach their target. (TheBlaze — July 30)
  • Two U.S. officials confirmed that the North Korean missile test on July 28 proved that the communist state was capable of hitting locations within the U.S., including Chicago and Denver. According to experts, this put North Korea two years ahead of where they were thought to be in terms of missile technology. (TheBlaze — July 31)

THE U.S. PUNISHES NORTH KOREA

  • Trump reluctantly signed a sanctions bill against North Korea, Iran, and Russia. Trump called it “seriously flawed,” but “sends a clear message to Iran and North Korea that the American people will not tolerate their dangerous and destabilizing behavior.” (TheBlaze — Aug. 2)
  • Pyongyang declared Thursday that the U.S. and South Korea can count on more “unexpected gift packages” in response to the July 28 precision missile test. North Korea added that the U.S. mainland was “on the knife’s edge of life and death.” (TheBlaze — Aug. 3)
  • National security adviser Gen. H.R. McMaster said in an interview that a pre-emptive strike against North Korea was on the table and that Kim Jong Un should not sleep well at night. (TheBlaze — Aug. 3)
  • The U.N. Security Council unanimously voted to pass “the single largest economic sanctions package ever leveled against the North Korean regime” for consistent violation of U.N. resolutions. (Statement from U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley — Aug. 5)

THREATS OF WAR

  • North Korea vowed a “thousand-fold revenge” against the United States for the U.N. sanctions. (TheBlaze — Aug. 7)
  • The Washington Post reported Tuesday that intelligence officials believe North Korea has a miniature nuclear warhead capable of fitting on an ICBM. While there have been no confirmed tests, North Korea claimed they already have successfully tested a nuclear ICBM. (TheBlaze — Aug. 8)
  • Trump told reporters Tuesday that any further threats from North Korea “will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.” (TheBlaze — Aug. 8)
  • The Korean People’s Army announced Wednesday that it was reviewing “military options to form attack positions” around the U.S. territory of Guam in order to “send a stern warning” to the United States. (TheBlaze — Aug. 8)
  • Defense Secretary James Mattis told North Korea that it needed to stand down immediately, and that any militaristic threat from the isolationist state would be outmatched by the U.S. both tactically and technologically. (TheBlaze – Aug. 9)

Pyongyang’s growing nuclear capabilities coupled with Kim’s continued threats against the U.S. make war seem more likely in light of Trump’s repeated statements that he will not tolerate a nuclear North Korea. Should it come to war, it is still not certain what part Russia and China would play.

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