North Korea Threatens Nuclear Response as USS Ronald Reagan Arrives in Busan

( – The US Navy has just sent an aircraft carrier to South Korea — and the country’s unstable northern neighbor has started issuing wild threats. North Korea called the visit a “provocation” and hinted that it could use nuclear weapons against the ship. Is Pyongyang likely to start a catastrophic nuclear war against a port visit? No — but the eccentric dictatorship’s growing nuclear-powered boldness is still a worry.

On October 12, the Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan and her battle group docked in the port of Busan, on the southeastern coast of South Korea. It’s a powerful force — the carrier has over 90 aircraft on board and is accompanied by two Ticonderoga-class missile cruisers and several destroyers — and the goal of the visit is to enhance the visibility of US forces in the region and remind North Korea that the US stands ready to fight any attempt to invade the south.

North Korea doesn’t like being reminded of this fact, and — as predicted — it’s reacted furiously to the carrier’s visit. The day after the Reagan docked, the government-run Korean Central News Agency ranted that the visit was “an undisguised military provocation” and claimed it proved the US plans to attack North Korea. If that happens, Pyongyang warned, the North will respond — and that response could include the first use of nuclear weapons.

Since its first successful nuclear test in 2006, when it detonated a sub-kiloton weapon, North Korea has built an arsenal estimated at around 40 nuclear warheads. It’s also working to produce smaller warheads and ballistic missiles that could carry them to the US; it already has missiles it claims can threaten Japan, US bases on Guam, and the whole of South Korea. As its arsenal grows, it’s increasingly willing to threaten to use it.

The Reagan battle group isn’t going to attack North Korea, so there’s no excuse for the communist regime to carry out its chilling war plans, but Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons are destabilizing the whole region.

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