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The war of words between the U.S. and North Korea continues

(Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP, File)

North Korea's military says President Donald Trump's warning of "fire and fury" if it threatens the U.S. is a "load of nonsense." The North is responding to Trump's threat in a statement from its military carried by state-run news agency KCNA. The statement says that "only absolute force" can work on someone as "bereft of reason" as Trump. The North Korean statement also says the military action its army "is about to take" will be effective for restraining America's "frantic moves" in and near the southern part of the Korean Peninsula. It says North Korea will complete a plan by mid-August for the "historic enveloping fire at Guam," convey it to the commander in chief of its nuclear force and then "wait for his order." North Korea says it will "keep closely watching the speech and behavior of the U.S."

President Donald Trump is stressing the United States' nuclear capabilities, saying "there will never be a time that we are not the most powerful nation in the world!" But he added: "Hopefully we will never have to use this power."

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is issuing his own sharp threat to North Korea, saying the regime should cease any consideration of actions that would "lead to the end of its regime and the destruction of its people." Mattis says any action by North Korea would be grossly overmatched by the U.S., and that Pyongyang would lose any arms race or conflict it started.

What is going on here? What does North Korea really want? Are the president’s comments putting us at risk of an unwanted military conflict?

On the KOMO Midday News (weekdays 1-3pm) we put those questions to Don Hellmann, Professor Emeritus at the University of Washington's Jackson School of International Studies, and UW political science professor Mark Smith. (Click the picture above to hear both audio clips).

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