Tension was rising between the US and North Korea on Thursday as the reclusive nation appeared to be gearing up for another nuclear test.
Intelligence officials told NBC News that the US is prepared to launch a preemptive strike against North Korea with conventional weapons if they were certain that the country was going to perform another nuclear-weapons test, according to an NBC News report.
The officials said that the US had two destroyers capable of shooting Tomahawk cruise missiles into North Korea — the same type of weapon used to strike a Syrian airfield last week.
Voice of America’s Washington bureau chief Steve Herman disputed notions that the US was readying a possible preemptive strike, but said retaliation was “likely” if North Korea conducted another nuclear test.
Aircraft bombers that were stationed in Guam may also be utilised, according to NBC. Additional forces, including the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier strike group and a US Air Force WC-135 “nuke-sniffer” were being relocated into the area of operations during the past week.
North Korean officials mirrored the US statement on Wednesday, saying that they would use a nuclear weapon to “hit the US first” if there were indications of a strike from the US.
“By relentlessly bringing in a number of strategic nuclear assets to the Korean Peninsula, the US is gravely threatening the peace and safety and driving the situation to the brink of a nuclear war,” a North Korean statement read, according to NBC.