The saber rattling on the Korean Peninsula has reached dangerous levels, with North Korea test firing yet another ballistic missile despite repeated condemnation and threats from the international community. According to the U.S. Pacific Command, the missile launch took place at 10:33 AM Hawaii time from the Pukchange Airfield north of Pyongyang. Despite wildly varying mainstream media reports to the contrary, U.S. Pacific Command notes that the missile did not leave North Korean territory before crashing and did not reach the Sea of Japan.
In a highly unusual meeting on Wed, President Trump, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Secretary of Defense and the National Intelligence Director provided a classified briefing on the North Korean threat to all 100 U.S. Senators, with many reporting the content of the briefing as grim. According to a joint statement released by Secretary of State Tillerson, Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats:
"Past efforts have failed to halt North Korea's unlawful weapons programs and nuclear and ballistic missile tests. With each provocation, North Korea jeopardizes stability in Northeast Asia and poses a growing threat to our allies and the U.S. homeland.”
In an Reuters interview on Thursday, President Trump said that tensions on the Korean Peninsula were reaching a boiling point;
“There's a chance we could end up having a major, major conflict with North Korea. Absolutely”
On Friday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warned;
"The threat of a North Korean nuclear attack on Seoul or Tokyo is real."
The senior U.S. Navy officer overseeing military operations in the Pacific region told lawmakers Thursday that the North Korean crisis is the worst he’s seen -- testifying that it's only a matter of time before Kim Jong Un has the capability of launching a nuclear warhead toward the United States.
Also this week, the office of the Prime Minister of Japan waned it's citizens to prepare, saying that a missile attack from N. Korea could come with less than ten minuets warning.
Earlier in the week, the US military began installation of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system in response to the North Korean missile threat. Known by the acronym THAAD, this anti-ballistic missile system is designed to shoot down short, medium, and intermediate range ballistic missiles in their terminal phase using a hit-to-kill approach. The missile carries no warhead, but relies on the kinetic energy of impact to destroy the incoming target. China has repeatedly expressed anger at the deployment given the strength of THAAD's X Band active electronically scanned array radar that can peer deep into Chinese territory.
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