North Korea a real threat?

Kim Jong Un mulling plan to strike Guam

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How real a threat is North Korea?

Several East Asian countries are on high alert following North Korea's threat to strike Guam.

During a briefing Tuesday on the opioid epidemic, President Trump warned that North Korea will be "met with fire and fury" by the U.S. if it continues to ratchet up tensions involving its nuclear program.

The Chinese government fears this war of words will spark a regional arms race, which now already seems to be happening. South Korean President Moon Jae-In is calling for a complete overhaul of South Korea's military in the face of North Korea's rapidly evolving nuclear capabilities and in Japan, some lawmakers are pushing for new weapons that could launch a preemptive strike, reports CBS News correspondent Ben Tracy.

State-run media threatened a missile strike on the US Pacific territory of Guam and said North Korea would "turn the US mainland into the theater of a nuclear war" at any sign of an impending American attack.

It marked a dramatic escalation in rhetoric between Washington and Pyongyang, as the Trump administration sends mixed messages on how it plans to contain the growing threat from North Korea.

North Korea's threat came after Trump's extraordinary remarks at his New Jersey resort of Bedminster Tuesday. "North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen," he said.

Trump's comments were significantly more threatening than any made by US presidents in the past. They also appeared at odds with those of his Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, who has sought to dial down the tension with Pyongyang in recent weeks.

Despite rhetoric coming from President Trump and Kim Jong Un, analysts say there are no signs the US is planning a first strike on North Korea or that Kim will make good on threats to hit the US territory of Guam.

The US military isn't in any position right now to strike North Korea with the kind of campaign that would be needed to bring battlefield success and would need weeks, if not months, to sort out the logistics, analysts say.

Mark Hertling, a retired US Army general and CNN analyst, said the tens of thousands of US civilians, many of them military dependents, would first need to be evacuated from South Korea.

The US would also need to add to its forces in the region in what Hertling called "a reinforcement of shooters." These would include US Navy ships and submarines armed with cruise missiles, plus Air Force bombers that could operate out of bases in Japan or Guam, he said. "Some of these are in places in the region, but not enough to decapitate North Korea in terms of their artillery," Hertling said.

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