Adding weight to speculation about the death of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who is reportedly untraceable since April 11, US Senator Lindsey Graham has said that the tyrant is either "dead or incapacitated".
Earlier, this week CNN, while citing an unnamed US official, had reported about US authorities closely monitoring intelligence reports about Kim being "in grave danger" after undergoing a major surgery.
Graham hopes for end to North Korea's woes
Even as North Korean authorities remain evasive regarding the speculation involving their leader's health and reported death, Graham said he would be "shocked" if Kim wasn't dead given the country's silence amid growing speculation about his demise.
Speaking to Fox News host Jeanine Pirro, during Justice with Judge Jeanine, Graham said: "It's a closed society. I haven't heard anything directly, but I'll be shocked if he's not dead or in some incapacitated state because you don't let rumors like this go forever or go unanswered in a closed society which is really a cult, not a country, called North Korea."
"So, I pretty well believe he is dead or incapacitated. And I hope the long-suffering North Korean people will get some relief if he is dead," added the Senator, who shares close ties with US President Donald Trump and is a member of the Foreign Relations Committee.
"President Trump is willing to do business with North Korea in a win-win fashion. So if this guy is dead, I hope the guy who takes over will work with President Trump to make North Korea a better place for everybody," Graham went on to add.
Trump had clarified that reports regarding Kim's health were untrue
A day after CNN broke the story of US officials monitoring North Korea following reports of Kim being gravely ill, Trump quashed the reports stating that they were incorrect.
Even though he remained evasive about being in touch with North Korean authorities, Trump said: "I think the report was incorrect. It was based on "old documents. We have a good relationship with North Korea—as good as you can have. I mean, we have a good relationship with North Korea. I have a good relationship with Kim Jong Un, and I hope he's okay. And somebody would say, "Oh, that's terrible." No, it's not terrible. I hope he's okay."
Lending credibility to some reports stating that Kim was in Wonsan, a set of satellite photos released by 38 North, a website reporting about North Korea, showed a train belonging to the North Korean dictator parked at the Wonsan's Leadership station. "The train's presence does not prove the whereabouts of the North Korean leader or indicate anything about his health, but it does lend weight to reports that Kim is staying at an elite area on the country's eastern coast," the website stated.
White House counsellor Kellyanne Conway declined to comment on the US stance on Kim's status. "The president will make any announcement about a head of state," she told Justice with Judge Jeanine.