North Korea will launch a “powerful nuclear hammer” at the “heart” of the United States if President Trump attempts a regime change in Pyongyang, North Korea’s state news agency warned Tuesday.
The statement comes amid heightening tension between the two nations, including a recent intercontinental ballistic missile launch showing the rogue state has the capacity to deliver a nuclear warhead as far as Alaska - as well as shows of force by the US Air Force and Navy, and recent comments by CIA Director Mike Pompeo at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado last week.
Although Pompeo did not explicitly state that regime change is on the table, the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) stated that his remarks “have gone over the line, and it has now become clear that the ultimate aim of the Trump Administration … is the regime change.”
Therefore, the North Korean news agency warned that even “the slightest sign of attempt to remove our supreme leadership” will lead to a “merciless blow” with its “powerful nuclear hammer.”
Pompeo, however, barely alluded to regime change in an interview where he focused on the importance of “separating” the regime of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un from his burgeoning nuclear arsenal.
“These weapons systems still need development and testing,” said Pompeo, “to the extent we can convince China it’s in its best interest to help us convince Kim it’s not in his best interest to move down that path. There are lots of ways to narrow the (nuclear) capacity band.”
Pompeo said the subject of North Korea comes up in almost every meeting he has with Trump. And he said the CIA is working on a “wide range of options” to deal with the threat, and “those answers will be delivered almost certainly alongside our partners at the Department of Defense.”
“There are things we can do to keep the (nuclear) capability out of Kim’s hands,” Pompeo said before addressing a direct question about regime change. “As for the regime, I'm hopeful we will find a way to separate that regime from this system.”
The North Korean news agency said those remarks demonstrate Pompeo’s “illiteracy” about North Korea and “an explicit illustration of incompetence of the U.S. intelligence community.” It then went on to threaten Pompeo directly, saying he will “bitterly experience catastrophic and miserable consequences” by daring to shake his “little fists” at the Kim regime.
If its “supreme dignity” is threatened, North Korea “must preemptively annihilate those countries and entities that are directly or indirectly involved in it by mobilizing all kinds of strike means including the nuclear ones,” according to the KCNA.
Pompeo actually argued in Aspen that he believes that Kim understands his “core mission” is to keep himself in power. Thus, Kim has taken what Pompeo believes are “rational” responses to the uptick in threat posture from the U.S. military such as reaching out for help from South Korea’s new president to “get us to back off and stop pressing just as hard as he is.”
“You can certainly characterize that as a rational response to the threat he perceives from the U.S. and our allies,” said Pompeo, “Kim is certainly capable of responding to things that are in his regime’s best interest.”
Asked for comment, a CIA spokesperson said, "We
will let the Director’s words stand without additional comment."