North Korea develops its nuclear programme "at an alarming rate"

Central Intelligence Agency director Mike Pompeo offered assurances Sunday there was "nothing imminent" in the U.S. standoff with nuclear-armed North Korea but said he wouldn't be surprised if Pyongyang conducted another missile test.

Long-standing tensions over North Korea's nuclear programme worsened when it tested two intercontinental ballistic missiles in July.

Speaking on CBS' "Face the Nation", Pompeo said Trump had "made very clear that the United States finds it unacceptable for a rogue leader like Kim Jong Un to have the capacity of a ballistic missile with a warhead that is integrated and fully deliverable to the United States and hold America and the world at risk".

Mike Pompeo says Pyongyang is moving at an "ever alarming rate" with its weapons program.

North Korea's Minju Joson newspaper said in an editorial Saturday that the North's army is "capable of fighting any war the US wants".

Donald Trump in particular has promised "fire and anger" at North Korea. "[There is] no intelligence that would indicate we are in that place today".

New U.N. sanctions condemning North Korea's rapidly developing nuclear program drew fresh ire and threats from the North. Trump, responding to a report that USA intelligence indicates Pyongyang can now put a nuclear warhead on its long-range missiles, vowed to rain down "fire and fury" if challenged.

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But Mr Pompeo denied that a threat of a nuclear conflict was imminent, saying: "I've heard folks talking about being on the cusp of a nuclear war".

He said President Trump was just trying to give the country's people hope when he floated the idea on Friday that the USA would take military action after condemning Venezuelan leader Nicholas Maduro for human rights abuses and calling for him to hold "free and fair elections".

The North then came out with a threat to lob four intermediate-range "Hwasong-12" missiles near Guam, a tiny USA territory some 2,000 miles (3,200 kilometers) from the North's capital, Pyongyang.

Earlier this week, the Trump administration also imposed new sanctions on Venezuela, targeting members of the new all-powerful constituent assembly.

These comments come following a week of verbal escalation between the United States and North Korea.

"The United States military is locked and loaded every day, and especially those who are on the front lines of freedom", said McMaster, who's also an Army lieutenant general.

"President Trump inherited a mess", Graham said. China is the North's biggest economic partner and source of aid, but says it alone can't compel its wayward ally to end its nuclear and missile programs.

  • Sonia Alvarado