World War 3: Situation Report
Washington has repeatedly pushed for the denuclearization and disarmament of North Korea, while it conducts joint drills with its allies in the region, including South Korea and Japan. The US is also reconsidering the size of missiles that South Korea can obtain as well as bolstering its defense capabilities, Reuters reports, citing the Pentagon.
“There is currently a limit on the warhead size and missiles that South Korea can have and yes, it is a topic under active consideration here,” Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis stated on Monday, as quoted by Reuters.
“I would tell you that we would be favorably inclined to do anything which furthers the defense capabilities of South Korea and we certainly have seen our alliance change and adapt over time before,” Davis said.
The Pentagon statement came following Seoul’s request to increase the cap on payloads to 1,000kg, voiced by South Korean President Moon Jae-in during a telephone conversation with Trump on Monday, South Korean Yonhap news agency reports.
Trump and World War 3
US President Donald Trump has yet again called for tough and decisive action over the “dangers posed by North Korea,” while praising the UN’s solidarity over the crisis. Meanwhile, the Pentagon is reportedly reviewing missile restrictions with Seoul.
“North Korea best not make any more threats to the US. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen,” Trump said on Tuesday afternoon.
Trump’s statement comes three days after the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) unanimously voted to impose a new round of sanctions on Pyongyang in response to its latest ballistic missile tests.
“After many years of failure, countries are coming together to finally address the dangers posed by North Korea,” Trump tweeted on Tuesday morning, adding that “we must be tough & decisive!”
South Korea and World War 3
Under the 2012 agreement with the US, South Korea is currently allowed to develop missiles with a range of up to 800km (497 miles) and a payload of 500kg, according to the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI). The agreed guidelines, which increased the range of South Korean missiles by 500 km but did not increase the payload, are considered “controversial” by the NTI. The organization says the missiles can “contribute to tensions in Northeast Asia” and despite their ability to reach any part of North Korea, they wouldn’t protect from the North’s mobile missile forces and attacks from island territories.
Following what was believed to be the second intercontinental missile (ICBM) test conducted by North Korea on July 28, Moon Jae-in apparently changed his mind over American Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense systems. Seoul requested renewed talks with the US on deploying THAAD systems, while earlier the South Korean leader had criticized the decision of previous government to host the missiles and announced he would delay additional deployments until environmental concerns were addressed.
North Korea and World War 3
“The intelligence community assess North Korea has produced nuclear weapons for ballistic missile delivery, to include delivery by ICBM-class missiles,” a DIA report read, according to reporters at the Washington Post who have seen the document.
The warning from the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) comes just hours after Pyongyang threatened “physical action” in response to sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council over the weekend.
The analysis also puts North Korea’s arsenal at 60 nuclear weapons, more than previously thought but a figure still being debated among experts.
The report comes just as Japan issued its own assessment of North Korea’s nuclear capabilities on Tuesday.
Less certain than the DIA report, a defense white paper commissioned by the Japanese government only went as far as saying that Pyongyang may be capable of miniaturizing a nuclear warhead.
The secretive state announced that it had successfully tested the smaller design last year, but there has been no independent evidence to support the claim.
The white paper stated that North Korea has reached a “new stage” in its weapons program following successful tests of its intercontinental ballistic missiles in recent weeks.
“It is conceivable that North Korea’s nuclear weapons program has already considerably advanced and it is possible that North Korea has already achieved the miniaturization of nuclear bombs into warheads and has acquired nuclear warheads,” the report read.
Japan has held several major evacuation drills in recent times as the country prepares for an attack from its Korean neighbors.
The UN Security Council voted unanimously to impose sanctions on North Korea following its continued testing of its nuclear systems in recent months.
The resolution could reduce the North’s export revenue by as much as $1 billion, or a third of its current total.
US President Donald Trump tweeted his praise of the move, saying: “After many years of failure, countries are coming together to finally address the dangers posed by North Korea. We must be tough & decisive!”
Russia has been skeptical about North Korea’s nuclear arms capability, with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov saying Pyongyang is “years and years away from a moment it can weaponize” a nuclear warhead.