North Korea Threatens US for Sending Aircraft Carrier to South

(Bloomberg) — North Korea warned it’s ready to use its most powerful weapons in a strike after the US deployed an aircraft carrier group to South Korea, signaling a provocation while the Biden administration is occupied with the Middle East conflict.

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“The US should realize that its huge strategic assets have entered the extremely dangerous waters,” the state’s official Korean Central News Agency said in a commentary Friday, adding the country was ready to use nuclear weapons if it felt an attack was imminent.

Kim Jong Un’s regime has bristled for years at the deployment to the region of US assets capable of nuclear strikes and its latest show of anger comes after the Navy’s Ronald Reagan aircraft group started a five-day port call in Busan this week. It’s the first visit of its sort in about a year, and the last time it happened Pyongyang responded by test-firing volleys of ballistic missiles.

Kim received renewed focus from the US after he made a trip to Russia last month for a summit with that Washington said would enhance arms transfers from Pyongyang for the Kremlin’s war in Ukraine. North Korea and Russia have denied the claims.

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But this month’s attack by Hamas on Israel has shifted the US’s attention to supporting its long-time partner in the Middle East, and taken the spotlight off ties between North Korea and Russia. Putin promised Kim help with Pyongyang’s space program when they met, but the US has said that sort of technology could further North Korea’s ballistic missile program.

A US congressional report issued this week said North Korea has been seeking to diversify its nuclear forces, increasing its chances to deliver an atomic warhead to the US and strike America’s allies in Asia.

“North Korea is on pace to deploy nuclear-armed intercontinental range missiles in sufficient numbers that could potentially challenge US homeland ground-based ballistic missile defenses,” the report from the Congressional Commission on the Strategic Posture of the United States said.

Pyongyang has already fired 28 ballistic missiles and two space rockets so far this year. They included four intercontinental ballistic missiles that could hit the US mainland. Kim’s regime launched more than 70 ballistic missiles last year, a record for the state.

North Korea last fired two short-range ballistic missiles just ahead of the summit between Kim and Putin on Sept. 13 at the Vostochny Cosmodrome space center in the Amur region. North Korea has backed Moscow during its invasion of Ukraine and Kim used the meeting to offer his personal support to Putin.

Kim received a message from Putin this week to mark the 75th anniversary of diplomatic relations, saying the summit would help in “expanding the constructive bilateral cooperation” between the two, North Korea’s biggest newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, reported Thursday.

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