With just two days to go until North Korea's "Day of the Sun" celebrations, when as reported yesterday it may conduct its 6th nuclear test at the Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Site, NBC reports citing multiple senior U.S. intelligence officials that in the latest stepwise escalation, the U.S. is prepared to launch a preemptive strike with conventional weapons against North Korea should officials become convinced that Kim Jong-Un's nation North Korea is about to follow through with a nuclear weapons test. Note: North Korea does not even have to carry out the text: mere conviction on the side of the US that it would, is sufficient.
As first reported yesterday, North Korea 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. According to multiple sources, the U.S. intelligence community has reported with "moderate confidence" that North Korea is preparing for its sixth underground nuclear test, though the U.S. is also in the dark regarding the specific timing.
The launch of a preemptive attack would naturally threatens a counterattack by Kim: the U.S. is thus "worried" that its strikes could provoke the volatile and unpredictable North Korean regime to launch its own blistering attack on its southern neighbor. "The leadership in North Korea has shown absolutely no sign or interest in diplomacy or dialogue with any of the countries involved in this issue," said Victor Cha, the Korea Chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Meanwhile, intelligence officials have told NBC News that the U.S. Navy has positioned two destroyers capable of shooting Tomahawk cruise missiles in the region, one just 300 miles from the North Korean nuclear test site. Additionally, 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.
Earlier in the week, North Korea said it would "hit the U.S. first" with a nuclear weapon should there be any signs of U.S. strikes. On Thursday, North Korea warned of a "merciless retaliatory strike" should the U.S. take any action. It is almost as if the U.S. is eager to provoke the "irrational" North Korean dictator.
By relentlessly bringing in a number of strategic nuclear assets to the Korean peninsula, the US is gravely threatening the peace and safety and driving the situation to the brink of a nuclear war," said North Korea's statement, which actually sounded quite rational and measured.
Futhermore, virtually everyone knows that Kim's threats are those of a paper tiger: North Korea is not believed to have a deliverable long-range nuclear weapon, according to U.S. experts, nor does it yet possess an intercontinental missile. Which begs the question: why is the US getting involved in yet another regime change operation half way around the world?
South Korea's top diplomat said today that the U.S. would consult with Seoul before taking any serious measures, or at least he hoped: "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 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."
Of course, if the U.S. does not "closely discuss" any pre-strike plans, then... oops.
In any case, a new war may break out as soon as this weekend: "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.