By Lindsay Dunsmuir
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The top U.S. intelligence official said on Sunday he would not be surprised if North Korea tested another missile, given that it had two tests in July, amid rising tensions between the two nations.
U.S. President Donald Trump has offered fiery warnings for North Korea, saying that the U.S. military was “locked and loaded.” North Korean officials in turn have accused the U.S. leader of driving the Korean peninsula to the brink of nuclear war.
“I am quite confident that (North Korean leader Kim Jong Un) will continue to try to develop his missile program, so it wouldn’t surprise me if there was another missile test,” U.S. Central Intelligence Agency Director Mike Pompeo said on “Fox News Sunday.”
North Korea said on Thursday that plans would be completed by mid-August to fire four intermediate-range missiles to land near the U.S. Pacific island of Guam, 3,500 km (2,175 miles) away.
Guam, some 7,000 km from the U.S. mainland, is a target because it is home to U.S. Naval and Air Force bases, from which two B-1B supersonic bombers were deployed close to the Korean peninsula on Tuesday.
Trump wrote on Twitter on Friday that U.S. “military solutions are now fully in place, locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely.”
Referring to Kim, Trump added: “If he utters one threat … or if he does anything with respect to Guam or any place else that’s an American territory or an American ally, he will truly regret it, and he will regret it fast.”
Trump has urged China to apply more pressure on North Korea.
He is expected on Monday to launch a trade investigation into China.
White House officials have insisted the investigation was not designed to apply additional pressure on China as it relates to North Korea despite the president’s previous remarks that he would be more amenable on trade if China stopped Pyongyang’s nuclear program.
Trump has also insisted that “nobody loves a peaceful solution better than President Trump.”