North Korea is prepared to preempt any "reckless" military intervention from the United States under the "more vicious and more aggressive" President Trump, Vice Minister Han Song Ryol told The Associated Press in an interview published Friday.
"We've got a powerful nuclear deterrent already in our hands, and we certainly will not keep our arms crossed in the face of a U.S. preemptive strike," Han said. "Whatever comes from the U.S., we will cope with it. We are fully prepared to handle it."
His comments follow a Thursday report from NBC News citing unnamed senior intelligence officials who said the U.S. is prepared to launch a conventional attack, including American boots on the ground, on North Korea if the isolated nation conducts another nuclear weapons test. Fox News reporter Jennifer Griffin, however, said "multiple senior defense officials" denied NBC's report, calling it "wildly wrong."
Such a test is expected as soon as this Saturday, April 15, when Pyonyang celebrates the birthday of Kim Il Sung, the founding president of the regime. Kim Jong Un, the founder's grandson and the current leader, has hinted a major new weapons test may be scheduled for that day. Last weekend, a U.S. Navy carrier strike group changed course and moved toward North Korea in what was understood to be a show of force against Pyongyang.