US Secretary of State John Kerry Friday demanded North Korea abandon an expected missile launch as the communist state threatened a nuclear strike on Japan amid a chilling new evaluation of its offensive capability.
Kerry, visiting Seoul to give fulsome US backing to military ally South Korea, joined President Barack Obama in decrying North Korea’s incendiary rhetoric — and urged China to step in.
The air of crisis that has engulfed the region for weeks, since North Korea staged a rocket launch and atomic test, was given even greater menace from a US intelligence report that said it may now have a nuclear warhead in its arsenal.
US and South Korean military officials downplayed the assessment by the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), but Pyongyang warned of the direst results if Japan executes its threat to shoot down any North Korean missile.
The North’s Korean Central News Agency said that such a “provocative” intervention would see Tokyo — an enormous conurbation of 30 million people — “consumed in nuclear flames”.