WASHINGTON (CBSMiami) — A second U.S. military strike by the U.S. has prompted questions about the future and what it means for North Korea.
A week after hitting Syria with Tomahawk missiles, the Pentagon dropped its largest non-nuclear bomb ever used in combat in Afghanistan, reportedly killing 36 Islamic State militants.
On Thursday, President Donald Trump praised the armed forces after the air strike in Eastern Afghanistan in which “The Mother of All Bombs,” carrying nearly 11 tons of explosives, targeted an underground cave complex the Pentagon said was used by ISIS.
Experts believe the two air strikes could be sending a message to the Syrian regime, as well as North Korea.
“I don’t know if this sends a message,” Trump told reporters. “It doesn’t make any difference if it does or not. North Korea is a problem. The problem will be taken care of.”
The Pentagon said the bombs accomplished their mission.
“This was the right weapon against the right target,” said General John Nicholson, Commander of U.S. Forces in Afghanistan.
Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren questioned the timing.
“I want to hear more from the generals out in the field about why they thought this was the right bomb and why this was the right moment,” said Warren.
While the Pentagon maintains that the strike had been in the works for months, it came just as North Korea is considering a major weapons test of its own in celebration of its founder.
A top North Korean official is accusing the Trump administration of wanting to “annihilate” the country.
The North Korean government said Trump’s decision to send a Navy strike force group to the Korean Peninsula and continue military exercises in the area are signs that that the U.S. is preparing for an attack.
North Korea Vice Minister Han Song Ryol said their relationship with the U.S. is in a “viscous cycle of escalation” and any military action against Kim Jong-Un’s regime could start a nuclear war.
“In one word it’s highly tense and it’s the worst situation ever. The Trump administration’s policy is the most hostile ever,” said Ryol. “If the U.S. comes up with a dangerous military option, then the first card is in our hands. We’ll deal with it with our preemptive strike. This means war.”
When asked if North Korea would use nuclear weapons if they felt they were being attacked, Ryol replied “of course.”
The U.S. could launch a devastating attack, but would not be able to stop North Korea’s military from causing massive destruction, which is why the defense secretary is leaning toward diplomacy.
“In regard to North Korea, we are working with international partners in order to diffuse the situation,” Jim Mattis said.
So far this year, North Korea has conducted four missile launches that included more advanced technology. It’s expected to soon carry out its sixth nuclear test in its quest to build a nuclear tipped missile capable of reaching the U.S.
Vice President Pence is due to travel to South Korea this weekend. The White House says discussions about North Korea’s nuclear program are on the agenda.