In another apparent run-up to a possible World War 3, North Korea leader Kim Jong-un looked on Saturday as his military test-fired a new anti-aircraft missile designed to stop a possible attack by United States bombers — even as two top U.S. admirals warned that Donald Trump may indeed launch a pre-emptive strike against North Korea.
"Just because it's tragic doesn't mean he won't do it," warned retired Admiral Samuel Locklear, former head of the U.S. Navy Pacific Command at an event in New York City this week. "If the national interests are high enough, and I think this is the mistake that Kim Jong-un needs really to think about, if you start pressing on an issue that has to do with the survival of the United States against a nuclear attack, the tragic becomes conceivable to stop it. It could be tragic."
North Korea, which is believed to possess the capability to produce up to 20 nuclear warheads, is now on a fast track to create an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the United States mainland with at least one of those nuclear explosives, the head of the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency testified earlier this month.
Another retired admiral and former U.S. Pacific Command chief, Timothy J. Keating, also warned that Trump may attempt to shut down North Korea's march toward becoming a nuclear threat by staging a pre-emptive first strike against the isolated country.
"There are a wide range of options readily available to the president and the secretary of defense resident in the planning warrens at Pacific Command," Keating cautioned at the New York event.
[caption id="attachment_4251269" align="aligncenter" width="670"] Donald Trump may soon launch a pre-emptive first strike against North Korea, two top retired admirals believe.[Image By Luca Bruno/AP Images][/caption]
But the missile tested by North Korea on Saturday was not designed to carry a nuclear payload, but instead to shoot down American aircraft that would form the tip of the spear in any U.S. attack on the country.
The missile test was announced by the state-run propaganda outlet KCNA, according to a Reuters report, which added that Kim Jong-un personally supervised the test launch, which was carried out by North Korea's Academy of National Defense Science, the agency in charge of the North Korean missile and nuclear development programs.
Kim ordered the new anti-aircraft missile to begin mass production, according to the KCNA release.
"This weapon system, whose operation capability has been thoroughly verified, should be mass-produced to deploy all over the country... so as to completely spoil the enemy's wild dream to command the air, boasting of air supremacy and weapon almighty," KCNA reported.
North Korea, however, successfully launched a medium-range ballistic missile just two weeks ago, which experts said was capable of reaching the U.S. territory of Guam in the Pacific Ocean, and has conducted a series of ballistic missile tests this year — openly defying warnings from Trump and the U.S. for the country to cease its missile testing program.
And earlier this week, Kim issued a warning to the United States to end its "state-sponsored terrorism," and condemning the U.S. as "a den of evils."
"The U.S. is, indeed, a den of evils that should be wiped off the face of the earth as early as possible as it is openly pursuing the policy of state-sponsored terrorism by unhesitatingly resorting to hideous provocation," an article in state-run media said.
In response to the series of North Korea ballistic missile tests, the U.S. announced that in the coming week, it will test a new missile interception system, launched from an Air Force base in California. The interceptor missile will attempt to shoot down a simulated ICBM, in a test that the U.S. said would be the first time it has tried to shoot down a missile traveling at intercontinental speeds.
[Featured Image By KRT/AP Images]