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Airbus Defense & Space / 38 North / Pleiades CNES / Spot Image via AP

Multiple senior U.S. intelligence officials told NBC News the U.S. is prepared to launch a preemptive strike if they become convinced North Korea is about to test a nuclear weapon.

The U.S. would strike with non-nuclear weapons, the officials say, and has two destroyers capable of shooting Tomahawk missiles in the region, as well as heavy fighters positioned in Guam. The Pentagon has also rerouted the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier. The U.S. would reportedly seek South Korean consent before striking.

But North Korea says it would "hit the U.S. first" with nukes if the U.S. signals a strike.

The evidence North Korea might be about to launch a test: Experts report Pyongyang is primed to launch its sixth nuclear test from its Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Site within days, based on satellite images captured Wednesday.

Update: A senior administration official told the AP it was "completely false" that the U.S. was preparing for a pre-emptive strike.

Go deeper

2 hours ago - Health

WHO: Not yet known whether Omicron leads to more severe disease

Photo illustration: Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The World Health Organization on Sunday said that it is not yet clear whether the newly discovered Omicron variant is more transmissible than other strains of the COVID-19 virus.

Why it matters: The agency's statement comes as the variant, discovered in South Africa, has already been detected in European and Asian countries.

7 hours ago - Health

Fauci: Omicron variant will "inevitably" be found in U.S.

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, cautioned on Sunday that the COVID-19 Omicron variant will "inevitably" be found in the United States.

Driving the news: Fauci, Biden's chief medical adviser, told ABC's George Stephanopoulos on "This Week" that U.S. officials will meet with colleagues from South Africa later on Sunday to try to determine the severity of the cases, as countries scramble to learn more about the variant.

Updated 9 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Dems fear supply-chain blame

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

As supply-chain kinks drive up prices and disrupt holiday shopping, Democrats are scrambling to show action and deflect blame.

Why it matters: With their party controlling both the White House and Capitol, vulnerable Democrats worry supply-chain snafus will hurt them in next year's midterms.