When it comes to war, North Korea and the United States have quickly become the most convincing "will-they-won't-they" pair on the planet. The United States has thrown harsh words and heavy sanctions at North Korea, while North Korea has worked to advance its nuclear program, likely in the hopes of taking things intercontinental with the United States. At this point, it's still unclear whether North Korea can or will attack America, but Kim Jong Un's military certainly isn't backing down.
On Tuesday, tensions between North Korea and the United States seemed to heighten. The Washington Post reported that U.S. intelligence analysts concluded that North Korea developed a miniaturized nuclear warhead. If used successfully, the warhead could be placed within a missile and fired at a far-away target, although it's not clear if the warhead has been tested. Also on Tuesday, reports surfaced that North Korea had threatened to attack Guam. The U.S. territory, located in the Pacific Ocean north of Papua New Guinea, is home to more than 160,000 people and several U.S. military installations.
It's the military presence that seems to have earned the attention of North Korea. According to CNN, a statement from the Strategic Force of the Korean People's Army warned of a potential attack on Andersen Air Force Base (AFB). The statement reportedly said that American bomber flights from Andersen AFB "get on the nerves of the DPRK and threaten and blackmail it."
North Korea’s KCNA carries military statement saying it is considering a pre-emptive missile strike on Guam pic.twitter.com/eKFo9WTHlC— Jon Passantino (@passantino) August 8, 2017
Since it's unclear if the nuclear warhead has been tested yet, it's also largely unclear if North Korea could actually attack Guam with a nuclear weapon. Either way, Guam may not be the only part of the United States under threat.
Last month, North Korea successfully tested an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that could likely hit Alaska. The test launch landed somewhere off the coast of Japan. Like Guam, Alaska also has multiple U.S. military installations.
After many years of failure,countries are coming together to finally address the dangers posed by North Korea. We must be tough & decisive!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 8, 2017
In response to the nuclear threat from North Korea, President Trump issued some fiery language of his own. Speaking to reporters from his New Jersey golf club, Trump vowed "fire, fury, and frankly power, the likes of which this world has never seen before." The president did not go into specific details about what a U.S. attack or retaliation could look like.
On both sides of the Pacific, preparation and rhetoric has escalated in recent weeks and months. Last week, for instance, the United States tested an ICBM of its own from California. Although officials said the test was not a response to North Korea's own tests, it's clear to see from reports on both sides of the ocean that tensions are running higher than ever.