Japanese PM warns of possible sarin missile strike by North Korea

Japanese PM warns of possible sarin missile strike by North Korea
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Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday said that North Korea could be capable of firing a missile carrying sarin gas at Japan, according to reports.

“There is a possibility that North Korea is already capable of delivering a warhead containing sarin,” Abe told a parliamentary committee on national security. 

The warning comes amid heightening tensions between the U.S. and North Korea. The U.S. deployed a Navy strike group to the west Pacific near the Korean Peninsula over the weekend as concerns grow over the country's weapons program.

North Korea responded by denouncing the move as an aggression and threatening a nuclear strike if the U.S. were to take military action.

Japan is one of the U.S.'s closest allies in the region and is considered a prime target for a North Korean missile strike because of its proximity to the Korean Peninsula. While the north's continued development of nuclear warheads has been a top issue of concern, Abe stressed that the country already had the ability to fire a sarin-tipped missile at Japan.

Sarin is a nerve agent banned by the United Nations chemical weapons convention and is capable of killing victims within minutes. 

The Trump administration has said that the U.S. is keeping a military option in the region on the table, but is leaning toward a diplomatic and economic solution to the rising tensions with North Korea.