Trump Vows North Korea Could be Met With 'Fire and Fury'

North Korea estimated missile ranges

As two nuclear-armed leaders trade threats, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says that President Trump "is sending a strong message to North Korea in language that Kim Jong Un would understand, because he doesn't seem to understand diplomatic language".

North Korea has threatened preemptive military strikes against the U.S., as President Donald Trump vowed to unleash "fire and fury" on Pyongyang if its aggression continued. "They will be met with fire, fury and frankly power the likes of which the world has never seen".

USA media including The Washington Post reported that US intelligence officials assess that a decade after North Korea's first nuclear test explosion, Pyongyang has produced nuclear weapons for ballistic missile delivery, including by intercontinental missiles - the type capable of reaching the continental U.S.

The Washington Post first reported details of the assessment on Tuesday just hours after North Korea threatened "physical action" in response to punitive sanctions unanimously passed by the United Nations Security Council over the weekend.

The sanctions followed Pyongyang's two tests of intercontinental ballistic missiles last month. "It's not awful what he said, but it's kind of the classic Trump in that he overstates things".

The warning comes after the North threatened to retaliate and take "physical" action against the USA over the United Nations' adoption of new sanctions on Saturday.

"The [intelligence community} assesses North Korea has produced nuclear weapons for ballistic missile delivery, to include delivery by ICBM-class missiles", an excerpt from the DIA analysis read. "North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States".

The Post story, citing unnamed USA intelligence officials, went further.

The escalating tensions shook Asian markets as the Kospi stock market index in South Korea, whose capital Seoul is in range of North Korean artillery, sank 1.1%, while Japan's Nikkei 225 Average dropped 1.3%.

While Kim's efforts to develop a missile capable of delivering a nuclear weapon to the continental US face big technological hurdles, he has made significant progress.

"They've done five nuclear tests now". Four subsequent nuclear tests, the latest a year ago, have accelerated progress on miniaturizing a device - something North Korea already claimed it could do.

The secrecy of the North's nuclear program and the underground nature of its test explosions make it very hard to properly assess its claims. As NPR's Geoff Brumfiel reports on All Things Considered, the technology hurdle for Pyongyang is to produce a relatively small, lightweight weapon that North Korean missiles are capable of getting to a target.

However, he added that an attack on Guam "won't just be against the U.S. military, it will be against the people". The Office of the Director of National Intelligence could not immediately be reached for comment.

To build a nuclear weapon, Brumfiel says, you start with a lot of conventional explosives that trigger the nuclear chain reaction. "What has taken so long to reach this conclusion by the IC?" he said in an email to Yonhap.

Turnbull says a conflict with North Korea would be shattering and have "catastrophic consequences".

Despite the report, there is some question among weapons experts about how a long-range missile would react when re-entering from Earth's upper atmosphere.

Related News: