A disturbing new media report claims North Korea gave Russian officials a letter stating they were prepared to attack the United States with a nuclear weapon.
The letter was reportedly given to Russia last month when the two countries met for talks in St. Petersburg. In the letter, North Korea stated it was “prepared to conduct a nuclear strike against the United States.”
The Russians then gave the letter to the United States, which has hardened the resolve of the Trump administration to end North Korea’s push for nuclear weapons.
The validity of the report, however, is in question, as a spokesman for Vladimir Putin denies having any knowledge of a letter. Sputnik News, a media outlet that has been accused of being a propaganda arm of the Russian government, broke the story.
If the story is true, however, it could signal that North Korea is trying to undermine America’s efforts to unite Russia with other countries to force North Korea to abandon their nuclear program. Threatening a nuclear strike might discourage Russia from joining efforts that might be seen as antagonizing the regime.
A delegation from the Stalinist state is said to have got a letter to Russian president Vladimir Putin last month during the Inter-Parliamentary Union talks in St Petersburg.
Sputnik said the document was given to upper house speaker Valentina Matviyenko by the North Korea delegation, who then passed it on to President Putin.
But Putin press secretary Dmitry Peskov said on Saturday that he was unaware of the letter.
It comes after three US aircraft carriers teamed up with Japanese ships for joint naval exercises designed to send a clear warning to North Korea.
The four-day drills that began in waters off South Korea’s eastern coast came as President Donald Trump traded insults with North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un.
The battle groups of the USS Ronald Reagan, the Theodore Roosevelt and the Nimitz will successively enter the exercise area during the drills that run until tomorrow, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said.
The United States has been sending its strategic assets, also including long-range bombers, to the region more frequently for patrols or drills amid accelerating North Korean efforts to expand its nuclear weapons program.
In recent months, North Korea has tested intercontinental ballistic missiles that could reach the U.S. mainland with further development and has conducted its most powerful nuclear test. It also flew two new midrange missiles over Japan and threatened to launch them toward Guam, a U.S. Pacific territory and military hub.
Trump has been working to rally global pressure against North Korea’s nuclear weapons program on a trip to Asia. That includes a stern speech delivered in South Korea’s National Assembly on Tuesday, in which he said: ‘Do not underestimate us. And do not try us…The weapons you’re acquiring are not making you safer, they are putting your regime in grave danger. Every step you take down this dark path increases the peril you face.’
The Trump administration has not yet commented on the report.