KIM Jong-un, the tyrannical leader of North Korea, has repeatedly threatened to launch nuclear strikes on the West and its allies.
The hermit nation has dramatically accelerated its nuclear weapons program under his rule, leading to a series of disputes between Kim and President Donald Trump. Here’s the latest…
In July 2017, North Korea successfully launched the country’s first inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM), which had the capability of reaching US territory.
The Pentagon, the US military headquarters, believes North Korea has around 200 missile launchers across the country, which can be used to fire short and medium-range missiles.
The most likely target of such a missile launch would be South Korea, Japan, Australia and possibly US territories in the Pacific Ocean.
Revised estimates suggest the total number of missiles the rogue state has is believed to be between 13 and 21.
And the regime is estimated to have at least four nuclear warheads.
Before the test of a suspected hydrogen bomb, North Korea had conducted a series of underground detonations of atomic weapons of increasing power.
Satellite images of Jong-un’s main missile test site in August revealed North Korea’s weapons were more powerful than initially thought.
Careful analysis of North Korean tests sites, using images from Planet, reveal the regime has been gradually building up the size of its missiles.
- April 9: A US strike force was sent towards the western Pacific Ocean near the Korean peninsula.
- April: President Trump ramped up the pressure on China to take action against the secretive state by declaring the US would “solve the problem” alone if it did not step up.
- April 14: During parades marking 105 years since the state’s founder Kim Il-sung was born, a devastating arsenal was on show. Hours before the parade a top general had told North Korean state TV: “We’re prepared to respond to an all-out war with an all-out war”.
- April 15: North Korea again enraged the US with a missile test but this time it was an embarrassing flop exploding almost immediately.
- April 17: US Vice President Mike Pence told Pyongyang the “era of patience is over” as he warned tubby tyrant Kim Jong-un not to test Trump as plans were made to send a missile defence system to South Korea earlier than planned.
- April 19: Vice President Mike Pence warned Kim Jong-un the US would “defeat any attack” as he spoke to soldiers aboard a massive aircraft carrier.
- April 28: North Korea launched a devastating attack on the US Capitol to spark World War Three in a terrifying propaganda film.
- May 2: Kim Jong-un warned that it would be a “piece of cake” to nuke Japan - warning that those who tried to retaliate and their supports would not be safe
- May 11: The hermit state said that it has the right to “ruthlessly punish” any US citizens after it detained a fourth American at the start of May
- May 5: Pyongyang announced it would seek the extradition of anyone involved in what it says was a CIA-backed plot to kill leader Kim Jung-un with a biochemical poison
- June 13: North Korea threatened to nuke Trump’s home town of New York after he mocked the missile programme.
- July 5: North Korea test-fired a ballistic missile which analysts say has a range of 6,700 kilometres and brings Alaska within reach. Pyongyang later said it was a “landmark” test of a Hwasong-14 intercontinental ballistic missile. Trump responded with an tweet saying; “Does this guy have anything better to do with his life?”.
- July 31: It was reported that Donald Trump was ready to order a military strike against a North Korean nuclear weapons facility hidden beneath a mountain range.
- August 8: Trump warned North Korea faces “fire and fury” if it threatens the US – as intelligence documents reveal Kim Jong-un has made mini nukes to attach to his new rockets
- August 10: North Korean state media said it was planning to launch four rockets towards the US territory of Guam.
- August 10: Trump declared North Korea “better get their act together” or they will be in trouble like “few nations have ever been”. He also suggested he might not have been tough enough with his previous comments on the rogue state.
- August 11: The Sun revealed Britain would play no part in a military strike on the communist state in a move that was slammed as “weak and ill-judged” by ex-Commander of British Forces Afghanistan Colonel Richard Kemp.
- August 11: Speaking from his New Jersey golf resort Trump told North Korea it would “truly regret” any action it takes against Guam.
- August 12: New satellite images of North Korea bases appear to show the volatile state is overhauling its missile sub fleet.
- August 15: North Korea appeared to back down from an imminent strike by saying Kim Jong-un would watch “the foolish and stupid conduct of the Yankees” before deciding whether to fire on Guam.
- August 28: It was reported that North Korea had fired a missile towards northern Japan. Residents were called to take immediate shelter underground.
- August 29: Officials confirmed the North’s missile launch. The “unidentified projectile” hurtled over the country before breaking into pieces, according to South Korea’s military.
- August 31: The US responded to Kim Jing-un’s latest missile outrage with a terrifying show of strength, dropping huge bombs near the North Korean border.
- September 3: The West awakes to the news North Korea has detonated a nuclear device in a test. The blast triggered an artificial earthquake six times larger than any previous test.
- September 4: James Mattis, the US Defence Secretary, warned of a “massive military response” to any threat from North Korea against the United States or its allies.
- September 6: North Korea promised a “redoubling” of its nuclear arsenal in response to threatened sanctions and warned the US faced “catastrophic consequences”.
- September 10/11: Two Hwasong-14 intercontinental ballistic missiles were test-fired with a range of more than 6,210 miles.
- September 15: North Korea fired a ballistic missile over Japan and into the Pacific, responding to new UN sanctions with its furthest-ever missile flight.
- September 25: North Korea threatened to attack US warplanes and accused Donald Trump of declaring war.
- September 26: North Korea moved jet fighters to the coast to intercept US bombers
- October 1: Trump says US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is “wasting his time” trying to negotiate with “Little Rocket Man” Kim Jong-un.
- October 3: North Korea threatened “suicidal” Japan with “nuclear clouds” as it blasted Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s call for the world to pile more pressure on the rogue state.
- October 7: Trump issues chilling threat to North Korea, insisting “only one thing will work” when dealing with the rogue state.
- October 17: In remarks prepared for the UN, North Korea’s ambassador wrote: “The entire US mainland is within our firing range and if the US dares to invade our sacred territory even an inch it will not escape our severe punishment in any part of the globe.”
- October 27: Experts worry the secretive country could eventually develop a long-range missile tipped with a nuclear warhead capable of hitting countries as far away as the UK.
- October 30: Reports say North Korea is readying itself for war by staging mass evacuation and blackout drills in its biggest towns and cities outside the capital Pyongyang.
- October 31: A massive nuclear base in North Korea collapses with up to 200 people inside, according to Japanese media, prompting fears of a Chernobyl-style radioactive leak.
- November 7: Donald Trump warned the US will use ‘full range’ of military force as North Korea vows to ‘bolster its nuclear sword of justice’ during his visit to South Korea.
The UN approved a new raft of sanctions against the hermit kingdom which could slash their export revenue by a third.
The US-drafted resolution bans North Korean exports of coal, iron, iron ore, lead, lead ore and seafood following Pyongyang’s two intercontinental ballistic missile tests in July.
It also prohibits countries from increasing the current numbers of North Korean labourers working abroad, bans new joint ventures with North Korea and any new investment in current joint ventures.
North Korea denounced the sanctions, saying they infringed on its sovereignty and vowed to take “righteous action”, according to the North’s official news agency.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the support of China and Russia for the latest sanctions sent a strong message to North Korea about what was expected of it.
The pariah state claims a nuclear test back in September – its most powerful yet – was a sophisticated 120 kiloton hydrogen bomb small enough to be carried on a missile.
The regime has successfully tested two Hwasong-14 long-range rockets over the Pacific Ocean causing significant concern for Japan – a crucial American ally.
The intercontinental ballistic missile is said to have a potential range of more than 10,000 kilometres or 6,200 miles.
If that were true, London would fall within its strike zone. The UK capital is 5,388 miles from Pyongyang.
A 100 kiloton H-bomb blast on central London would dwarf the US nukes dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Experts say 130,000 people would be killed instantly and all brick and concrete buildings within a mile of the epicentre would be destroyed.
Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon has previously warned that Britain is at risk from North Korea’s long-range nuclear missile programme as some cities are closer than American targets.
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