Today in The North Korea Threat Exchange

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
April 12 2013 1:56 PM

Today in the North Korea Threat Exchange

166399528
He's not promising a sea of fire, but Secretary Of State John Kerry is sending some warnings of his own to North Korea.

Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

North Korea informed Japan on Friday that it would hit Tokyo should the current tensions on the Korean Peninsula escalate, continuing the dictatorship's near-daily barrage of threats.

The report comes from South Korea's Yonhap News, which explains:

"In a commentary carried by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), the communist country lashed out at Tokyo's standing orders to destroy any missile heading toward Japan, threatening such actions will result in a nuclear attack against the island nation."
Advertisement

Japan deployed missiles to Tokyo on Tuesday, vowing to shoot down any misfires approaching Japan from an expected midrange missile test.

Meanwhile, the U.S. intelligence community is publicly all over the place on whether North Korea could actually produce a nuclear warhead. A report partially released yesterday from one Pentagon intelligence agency (after a member of Congress cited it in a hearing) concluded with "moderate confidence" that the country could make a nuclear weapon, albeit one with low reliability. But that report doesn't seem to represent a consensus conclusion of the U.S. government and was immediately downplayed by senior intelligence officials, as Reuters reports:

Pentagon spokesman George Little said, "It would be inaccurate to suggest that the North Korean regime has fully tested, developed or demonstrated the kinds of nuclear capabilities referenced in the passage."
James Clapper, the country's senior intelligence official, warned that the assessment was not necessarily shared by the wider U.S. intelligence community.
"I would add that the statement read by the Member is not an Intelligence Community assessment. Moreover, North Korea has not yet demonstrated the full range of capabilities necessary for a nuclear armed missile," Clapper, the director of national intelligence, said in a statement.

Secretary of State John Kerry spoke in Seoul, South Korea, on Friday, issuing some warnings of his own to the north. While Kerry's remarks were far from a Kim Jong Un-style promise to drown our enemies in a sea of flames, he had a clear message to convey to the young dictator. Calling the country's plans to test a missile a "huge mistake," Kerry said (via the AP): 

"If Kim Jong Un decides to launch a missile, whether it's across the Sea of Japan or some other direction, he will be choosing willfully to ignore the entire international community. And it will be a provocation and unwanted act that will raise people's temperatures. ... It will further isolate his country and further isolate his people who are desperate for food and not missile launches. They are desperate for opportunity and not for a leader to flex his muscles."

As of Friday, according to NBC News, North Korea's medium-range missiles are still fueled and able to fire at any time, but there's been no evidence of increased military activity from the country to suggest a rocket launch is actually about to happen.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Meet the New Bosses

How the Republicans would run the Senate.

The Government Is Giving Millions of Dollars in Electric-Car Subsidies to the Wrong Drivers

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Cheez-Its. Ritz. Triscuits.

Why all cracker names sound alike.

Friends Was the Last Purely Pleasurable Sitcom

The Eye

This Whimsical Driverless Car Imagines Transportation in 2059

Medical Examiner

Did America Get Fat by Drinking Diet Soda?  

A high-profile study points the finger at artificial sweeteners.

The Afghan Town With a Legitimately Good Tourism Pitch

A Futurama Writer on How the Vietnam War Shaped the Series

  News & Politics
Photography
Sept. 21 2014 11:34 PM People’s Climate March in Photos Hundreds of thousands of marchers took to the streets of NYC in the largest climate rally in history.
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
  Life
Quora
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Sept. 21 2014 1:15 PM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 5  A spoiler-filled discussion of "Time Heist."
  Arts
Television
Sept. 21 2014 9:00 PM Attractive People Being Funny While Doing Amusing and Sometimes Romantic Things Don’t dismiss it. Friends was a truly great show.
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 21 2014 11:38 PM “Welcome to the War of Tomorrow” How Futurama’s writers depicted asymmetrical warfare.
  Health & Science
The Good Word
Sept. 21 2014 11:44 PM Does This Name Make Me Sound High-Fat? Why it just seems so right to call a cracker “Cheez-It.”
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.