(CNN) – A stunning new look at the public facade of the brutal North Korean regime. Kim Jong-un, in newly-released video, strutting center-stage at a gathering of his hand-picked elites, who dutifully applaud the dictator. On state TV, a fawning news anchor narrates the gathering; the supreme people’s assembly.
At the same time Kim Jong-un is conducting this show of political force, Kim’s regime is warning America over the deployment of the U.S. aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson and its strike-group to the waters off the Korean Peninsula.
Calling it an act of “aggression,” a regime statement hand-delivered to CNN said, “if the U.S. dares to choose a military option, the D.P.R.K. is willing and ready to react to any mode of war desired by the U.S.”
Balbina Hwang of Georgetown University said, “I think it’s North Korea essentially saying ‘Look, we are pursuing nuclear weapons for a reason. This is exactly why. You are the world’s most powerful nuclear power. If you dare to strike us, we will strike back.'”
A U.S. defense official told CNN, the carrier group was sent to patrol near North Korea, because of Kim’s recent provocations. His missile-tests, and tests of engines for intercontinental ballistic missiles.
CNN is learning more specific information about what the U.S. carrier group could do, off North Korea’s coast, if ever ordered to strike.
Analysts said the Vinson strike-group has two destroyers and a cruiser, with more than 300 combined missile-tubes. They carry the same types of tomahawk missiles the U.S. fired into Syria and could shoot down some North Korean missiles, if they’re test-fired.
Dakota Wood, a weapons expert, of the Heritage Foundation said, “The CG-47, the ‘Lake Champlain’, this smaller ship on the right, carries over 100 vertical-launch missiles. Some of those would be equipped to be able to interdict a shorter or medium-range ballistic missile.”
Will those American warships be ordered to shoot down North Korean missiles, if they’re test-fired while the carrier group is nearby? Pentagon officials won’t comment.
However, the movement of the warships comes as President Donald Trump tweeted, “North Korea is looking for trouble” and that if china doesn’t help, “We will solve the problem without them!”
Experts worry about a point of no return, for the tough-talking leaders of the U.S. and North Korea. Hwang said, “The two leaders could indeed be headed for a collision course; essentially a game of chicken. And many worry that once they’re on this path, there’s no U-turn or left turn or stop.”
Don’t look for China to help steer the two leaders off that path. Despite President Trump’s messages to China, even saying a Chinese trade deal with the U.S. would be better for Beijing if it helps with North Korea, the Chinese President has made no promises of specific action to reign in Kim Jong-un.