As tensions between the U.S. and North Korea continue to escalate, highly-charged rhetoric suggests a diplomatic outcome is becoming increasingly unlikely.
Kim Jong Un, North Korea's leader, claimed on Dec. 21 that his country has the capability to be "a substantial nuclear threat" to the U.S., according to the International Business Times.
In comments he made at a conference of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea on Dec. 21, Kim said: "Nobody can deny the entity of the DPRK which rapidly emerged as a strategic state capable of posing a substantial nuclear threat to the U.S. ... Although grave challenges that should not be overlooked face us, we neither feel disappointed nor are afraid of them but are optimistic about the progress of our revolution under this situation."
A North Korean foreign ministry spokesman was highly critical of President Donald Trump's National Security Strategy, which was unveiled on Dec. 18, calling it "full of Trump's criminal nature," according to the North Korean Central News Agency.
On Nov. 28, North Korea conducted its third ballistic missile launch of 2017. Each test has yielded increasingly powerful results.
The Hwasong-15 ICBM, used in the Nov. 28 test, had a potential range of 8,000 miles, according to David Wright of the Union of Concerned Scientists. That potential range conceivably puts the entire U.S. mainland within firing distance.
“It’s pretty impressive,” said Wright of the test flight, The New York Times reports. “This is building on what they’ve done before. It’s muscle-flexing to show the U.S. that they’re going to continue to make progress.”
Previous reports have claimed North Korea has been testing ICBMs loaded with anthrax, a claim which the country has denied, according to the International Business Times. Anthrax is a biological agent typically used in attacks associated with bioterrorism.
“Properly speaking, it is the U.S. stereotyped method to cook up untruths as truths, stubbornly insisting that black is white and fabricating anything for satisfying their aggressive greed,” stated the KCNA. “And the U.S. itself is an empire of evils full of plots, fabrications, lies, and deceptions.”
According to reports, the White House is preparing for a "bloody nose" military attack on North Korea to put a halt on its nuclear weapons program.
"The Pentagon is trying to find options that would allow them to punch the North Koreans in the nose, get their attention and show that we’re serious," one former security official told the Telegraph, according to the International Business Times.