By Debora MacKenzie
“Fire, fury and frankly power, the likes of which this world has never seen before.” That’s what US President Donald Trump vowed on 8 August to unleash on North Korea if it made “any more threats” to the US.
Earlier that day, North Korea’s military had put the Pacific island of Guam – a US territory that hosts US airbases – on alert with the provocative statement that it was “carefully examining the operational plan for making an enveloping fire at the areas around Guam.”
The exchange has caused many to fear that the US president is pushing the situation towards nuclear war. The reality is much more complicated.
The threat that started the whole affair didn’t come out of nowhere. Every year, Pyongyang protests the annual joint military exercise conducted by the US, South Korea, and Japan, simulating a nuclear strike against North Korea.
Sure enough, shortly before the threat to Guam, a B-1B – an American bomber capable of carrying nuclear weapons – had once again flown from Guam to near North Korean airspace.
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