In its efforts to grapple with North Korea, the US might consider killing its leader Kin Jong-un or deploying nuclear weapons in South Korea, the National Security Council has reportedly suggested to President Donald Trump.
According to NBC News, top-ranking intelligence and military officials say returning US nuclear weapons to South Korea after 25 years is one of the moves under consideration by the Council, in response to North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
The NSC also presented Trump with the possibility of assassinating Kim, along with the option of infiltrating special forces into North Korea and then sabotaging key nuclear infrastructure.
One option “is to target and kill North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and other senior leaders in charge of the country’s missiles and nuclear weapons and decision-making,” NBC news said.
Such scenarios are part of an accelerated review of North Korea policy that were prepared in advance of Trump’s meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping this week, NBC said, quoting multiple top-ranking intelligence and military officials.
The report came days after Trump ordered airstrikes on a Syrian air base in retaliation for a chemical weapons attack widely believed to have been carried out by Bashar Assad’s forces that killed over 80 civilians.
Analysts had earlier said the strikes contained a clear message for Pyongyang that the US was not afraid to exercise the military option, and there had been speculation as to how the North would respond.
On Saturday, North Korea said the US missile strikes on Syria were an “intolerable act of aggression” that “proves a million times over” that strengthening its nuclear program was the right choice, state media reported.
The comments were Pyongyang’s first since the US on Thursday fired 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles from warships in the Mediterranean at the airfield near Homs in central Syria.
“The US missile attack against Syria is a clear and intolerable act of aggression against a sovereign state and we strongly condemn it,” KCNA news agency quoted an unnamed spokesman for the North Korean foreign ministry as saying.
“The reality of today shows that we must stand against power with power and it proves a million times over that our decision to strengthen our nuclear deterrence has been the right choice.”
Trump has recently threatened unilateral action against Pyongyang if Beijing fails to help curb its neighbor’s nuclear weapons program.
However, Pyongyang’s response suggested the reclusive state was determined to continue with its nuclear weapons program.
“Swaggering as a superpower, the US has been picking only on countries without nuclear weapons and the Trump administration is no exception,” the foreign ministry spokesman said, according to KCNA.
“The Syria attack thoroughly reminds us the fact that it is absolutely dangerous to have any illusions about imperialism and only military power of our own will protect us from imperialistic aggression,” he added.
“We will keep bolstering our self-defensive military might in various ways in order to cope with the ever-intensifying US acts of aggression.”
The North has carried out five nuclear tests — two of them last year — and expert satellite imagery analysis suggests it could well be preparing for a sixth.
Pyongyang has shown no sign of reining in a missile testing program ultimately aimed at securing the capability to deliver a nuclear warhead to the continental United States.