North Korea vowed Tuesday to strike the U.S. with a “powerful nuclear hammer” after CIA chief Mike Pompeo hinted last week that Washington was open to the possibility of regime change.
The state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), quoting a Foreign Ministry spokesman, issued a scathing rebuke of Pompeo’s remarks at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado last Thursday that appeared to advocate ousting the North’s supreme leader, Kim Jong Un.
“Although his reckless remarks are just balderdash of a guy who has become so angrily desperate due to the ever-increasing nuclear strike capability of the DPRK, they have gone over the line, and it has now become clear that the ultimate aim of the Trump administration’s hostile policy towards the DPRK is … ‘regime change,’ ” the spokesman said.
Pompeo had told the forum that both the intelligence community and the Pentagon have been tasked with developing “a range of options that can do what ultimately needs to be achieved,” adding that he was “hopeful” the U.S. could “find a way to separate that regime from” their nuclear weapons.
Asked if he was suggesting regime change, Pompeo appeared to advocate such a move by saying he believed the U.S. “can tackle every piece” of the North Korean threat.
North Korea has repeatedly lambasted the U.S. in state media over alleged plans to topple Kim, including a detailed plot that it announced in May to assassinate Kim with “biochemical bomb” at a military parade.
It called that alleged plot a “heinous crime” and said it would “ferret out and mercilessly destroy the terrorists” who had hatched the plan.
Tuesday’s statement was equally indignant, with the North vowing to defend Kim and take countermeasures in the event of a U.S. “decapitation” — or assassination — strike on the supreme leadership.
“Our army and people have never thought about their destiny and future separated from their supreme leadership,” the KCNA statement said.
“The first and foremost mission of our revolutionary armed forces with the nuclear force as their backbone is to defend the leader at the cost of their lives.
“Should the U.S. dare to show even the slightest sign of attempt to remove our supreme leadership,” it added, “we will strike a merciless blow at the heart of the U.S. with our powerful nuclear hammer, honed and hardened over time.”