As US athletes prepare to compete against North Koreans at the Olympics, officials from both countries are locked in a "diplomatic showdown," per Reuters. At the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva on Tuesday, US Ambassador Robert Wood said North Korea's nuclear program "must be completely, verifiably, and irreversibly eliminated" as the country "may now be only months away from the capability to strike the United States with nuclear-armed ballistic missiles." He added, however, that he had "no new information" regarding nuclear capability. North Korean diplomat Ju Yong Chol then tried to turn the tables, arguing it's the US that's considering a nuclear strike on North Korea. US officials have "repeatedly" discussed a "nuclear and missile threat to justify their argument for a military option and a new concept of a so-called 'bloody nose,'" Ju said.
The decision to deploy "large nuclear assets" on the Korean Peninsula shows the US may already be preparing for such a move, said Ju. Given its nuclear superiority, the US under a nationalist President Trump could "trigger off a new nuclear arms race and … bring the whole world close to a horrible catastrophe," he added. Woods was also rebuffed by China and Russia after suggesting those countries were "growing their stockpiles … and, in some cases, pursuing the development of new nuclear capabilities to threaten other peaceful nations." En route to the Olympics in South Korea, Vice President Mike Pence told reporters he planned to ensure North Koreans don't "paper over the truth about their regime," including its "headlong rush to develop nuclear weapons," though he said a meeting with North Korean officials is possible, per the New York Times. (Read more North Korea stories.)