The US has promised a “response” to Pyongyang if it conducts another nuclear test
Pyongyang is about to cross a 'red line', US Asia Pacific Command officials say
The US military has promised a “response” to North Korea, which, according to the US and South Korean intelligence, is preparing to carry out a nuclear test within a few weeks, reported Agence France-Presse and France 24 television.
Pyongyang is about to cross a “red line” – this nuclear test “would change things” in the region and would receive a “response” from the United States, high-ranking military personnel from the American Asia-Pacific Command said yesterday in Honolulu.
North Korea has carried out five ballistic missile tests in a week and appears to be preparing a nuclear test after the upcoming Chinese Communist Party congress starting on October 16, a senior military official at the Indo-Pacific Command told reporters.
“In my opinion, it is most likely that a test will be carried out a week or two after the congress,” said this source, who requested anonymity.
South Korean intelligence estimates that the test, which would be the first since 2017, could be carried out between October 16 and the US midterm elections on November 7.
Noting that no link had been established between Pyongyang’s recent ballistic missile tests and the possibility of a nuclear test, Admiral Sam Paparo, the commander of the US fleet in the region, admitted that it would become “a cause for very deep concern”.
“That would be too disturbing and would meet with a response,” he added.
“That response would be made in close consultation with our South Korean ally in accordance with our concept of integrated deterrence — it would include all US instruments of power,” diplomatic, military and economic, the admiral added.
According to Gen. Ken Wilsbach, the commander of US air forces in the region, the idea that North Korea has nuclear weapons is of particular concern, since the regime in Pyongyang does not see such weapons as a deterrent that should never be used.
“They have threatened to use these weapons against their neighbors and even against the United States. And that is unusual,” he noted. “Other countries with these weapons are not talking like that; that should alarm the whole world.”
“In my opinion, this would worry even China and Russia,” added the general.
Under international sanctions over its weapons programs, North Korea adopted a new doctrine in early September proclaiming that the country will never give up its nuclear weapons.
Since 2006, the North Korean regime has conducted six nuclear bomb tests. The most recent and most powerful nuclear test was in 2017; it was estimated to have a capacity of 250 kilotons of TNT equivalent. Pyongyang has mentioned a hydrogen bomb.
Satellite images from recent months show signs of activity in a nuclear test tunnel at the Pungeri test site.