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April 18, 2017

Tensions rise between U.S. and North Korea over nuclear testing

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  • Vice President Mike Pence visited the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea on Monday, an area of high tension as North Korea remains defiant in its development of nuclear weapons despite warnings from the United States and international community to abandon the program.
  • Later, in South Korea’s capital of Seoul, Pence publicly said that President Donald Trump has already demonstrated his willingness to engage with enemies, like those in Syria and Afghanistan where the U.S. military has recently carried out bombings. “North Korea would do well not to test his resolve or the strength of the armed forces of the United States in this region,” Pence said.
  • North Korea’s deputy ambassador to the United Nations responded later by saying the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea “is ready to react to any mode of war desired by the Americans.”
  • Over the weekend, North Korea celebrated a national holiday by parading large containers big enough to hold new long-range ballistic missiles through the capital of Pyongyang. It also tested a ballistic missile, which U.S. officials say blew up seconds after launch.
  • The country’s vice foreign minister said North Korea will continue testing missiles and threatened a preemptive nuclear strike if the U.S. takes military action against it.

  1. Essential question: What is nuclear proliferation and why is it such a controversial subject in the international community?
  2. How does Vice President Pence’s statement contrast with the policy of President Barack Obama’s administration in relating to North Korea?
  3. According to national security experts, North Korea does not currently have the capability to strike the U.S. with a nuclear missile. Why are its threats still concerning to the U.S. and world leaders?
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