North Korea Threatens Guam

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As North Korea continues to develop their nuclear arsenal President Trump is keeping up with his tough talk towards the country. As we have seen earlier on in Trump’s term, as well as with the previous few American Presidents, they have maintained a hard line towards Kim Jong Un and his threats of a nuclear arsenal. However, the tension was further escalated this week when North Korea issued a direct threat towards the US Territory of Guam. The Trump administration responded strongly, as many would have expected. Here’s how that was covered by the media here in the US:

Fox News – “Trump and his administration are ‘speaking with one voice’ on North Korea, State Department says

CNN – “North Korea says Guam strike plan ready within days

Setting the Stage:

Trump and his administration are ‘speaking with one voice’ on North Korea, State Department says. – Fox

The State Department on Wednesday insisted President Trump and his Cabinet secretaries are in agreement about how to deal with North Korea a day after the president warned it could face “fire” and “fury” from the United States. – Fox

Tensions have escalated with North Korea over the last several days. On Tuesday, President Trump reacted to reports that North Korea had produced a compact nuclear warhead by warning the country that it would face consequences if it threatened the United States. – Fox

“They will be met with the fire and the fury like the world has never seen,” Trump told reporters at his golf course in New Jersey. – Fox

North Korea says Guam strike plan ready within days…A North Korean plan to fire four missiles near the US Pacific territory of Guam will be ready for Kim Jong Un’s consideration in days, state media has reported, as an unprecedented exchange of military threats between Washington and Pyongyang intensifies. – CNN

The intermediate-range missiles would be fired east and over Japan before landing around 30 to 40 kilometers (18 to 25 miles) off the coast of the tiny island if the plan is implemented, according to state-run KCNA. Guam is more than 3,000 kilometers from North Korea. – CNN

The North Korean threat has been on the Trump administration’s foreign-policy agenda since the President took office in January, but it has taken center stage since Pyongyang tested two intercontinental ballistic missiles last month that it says are capable of hitting the US mainland. – CNN

The sudden escalation in tensions in the past week came after US intelligence analysts assessed that North Korea had produced a miniaturized nuclear warhead, according to multiple sources familiar with the analysis of North Korea’s missile and nuclear program…There is no indication that the Hwasong-12 missiles mentioned in the Guam plan would be tipped with nuclear warheads. – CNN

The White House was accused of sending mixed messages on its North Korea stance, with Trump’s fiery comments juxtaposed with US State Secretary Rex Tillerson’s more diplomatic approach, which focused on dialogue…But those messages are beginning to converge. – CNN

The KCNA report includes detailed provisional plans to launch four rockets “above Shimane, Hiroshima and Koichi Prefectures of Japan,” and specified they would fly 3,356 kilometers (2,000 miles) for 1,065 seconds as a “crucial warning to the US.” Following that flight path, the missiles would also have to travel over the Japanese prefecture of Ehime. – CNN

The Korean People’s Army Strategic Force will present the final plan for the launch to Kim by mid-August and “wait for his order,” the report said. – CNN

Comments from the US:

“They will be met with the fire and the fury like the world has never seen,” Trump told reporters at his golf course in New Jersey. – Fox

“My first order as President was to renovate and modernize our nuclear arsenal. It is now far stronger and more powerful than ever before,” Trump tweeted Wednesday morning. “Hopefully we will never have to use this power, but there will never be a time that we are not the most powerful nation in the world!” – Fox

“The DPRK regime’s actions will continue to be grossly overmatched by ours and would lose any arms race or conflict it initiates,” the defense secretary [James Mattis] said. – Fox

Nauert denied that Trump’s colorful language and warning of war were at odds with other secretaries and officials. She referenced Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s comments that Trump was sending a message to North Korea in the type of language it could understand. – Fox

“Those are alarming actions,” Nauert said of Kim Jong-Un’s regime. “They’re provocative actions on the part of North Korea.” – Fox

“North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States,” Trump said. “They will be met with fire, fury and frankly power the likes of which this world has never seen before.” – CNN

“The DPRK should cease any consideration of actions that would lead to the end of its regime and the destruction of its people,” Mattis said in a statement Wednesday, using an acronym for North Korea. – CNN

North Korea is “trying to ratchet up the threat to create political pressure in the US and elsewhere to get talks,” says Carl Schuster, a Hawaii Pacific University professor and former director of operations at the US Pacific Command’s Joint Intelligence Center…”They’ve noticed that we’ve never sought conflict with an adversary who can hit our territory (and they) hope that this (threat) will force a more diplomatic line.” – CNN

Comments from North Korea:

Hours after Trump’s comments, state media in North Korea reported that its leaders were seriously considering a plan to fire missiles at Guam – Fox

North Korea responded to Trump’s comments through a state media report, criticizing the US President for having “let out a load of nonsense about ‘fire and fury,'” and accused him of “failing to grasp the on-going grave situation.” – CNN

The report states that “sound dialogue is not possible with such a guy bereft of reason and only absolute force can work on him.” – CNN

North Korea has also slammed US and UN sanctions placed on the country over its recent increase in missile testing, and has used those measures to justify its renewed aggressiveness. – CNN

A state media report Wednesday gave first signs of a Guam strike plan and mentioned a potential strike on Andersen Air Force Base, designed “to send a serious warning signal to the US.” – CNN

Other Reactions:

Trump’s comments have been slammed as incendiary by his political opposition as well as some foreign powers, but have been supported by others – CNN

Japan’s chief cabinet secretary, Yoshihide Suga, said that his government “can never tolerate North Korea’s provocations,” and urged the rogue state to comply with UN resolutions regarding its missile and nuclear programs. – CNN

A South Korean military official says that there have been no indications that Pyongyang is readying a strike…”Currently, there is no unusual movement related to a direct provocation,” South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff spokesman Roh Jae-cheon said in a press briefing. – CNN

Meredith Sumpter, Asia director of the Eurasia Group and a long-time Asia analyst, says that despite the escalation in tensions, “we are no closer to actual military confrontation now then we were before. – CNN

“Kim Jong Un says a lot of things and he makes a lot of threats, but at the end of the day he knows that if he should undertake any kind of military strike against the US and its allies, the counter response will likely be the end of his regime,” – CNN

President Trump received a great deal of criticism from his detractors after his comments where he mentioned the “fire” and “fury” that North Korea would face if they were to attack the US. Many people found these comments to be incendiary and felt that they would provoke an already unstable situation. Additionally, these comments seemed to go against some of the other statements made by members of the Trump administration in response to the news involving North Korea’s nuclear capabilities. Many critics found it unsettling that the President would make a statement with such a strong message without the full agreement and support of the rest of his team.

I was expecting the author at CNN to make a much bigger deal of the seemingly mixed messaging; however, it appears that the Trump team has gotten their message in line, as shown in the passage that I highlighted above from the CNN article. Since CNN never misses an opportunity to criticize the President I found it interesting that they only included this one small paragraph on that issue.

The criticism that the President and his team seemed disconnected, had reached the point where Fox felt they should write a whole article defending the Trump team and lauding their one, cohesive message with regards to North Korea. The titles of the respective articles is what I found to be most interesting. While CNN is reporting on the potential threat from Guam, Fox feels that it is more important that they respond to criticism directed towards the President and his team than to let their readers know all the latest details of this potentially dangerous situation.

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