North Korean state media on Friday renewed a threat to launch missiles toward the US territory of Guam, warning that “reckless moves” by the US would compel Pyongyang to take action.
North Korea first said it was examining a plan to target the Pacific island in August after US President Donald Trump warned the isolated regime would “face fire and fury like the world has never seen” following a US intelligence assessment that North Korea had produced a miniaturized nuclear warhead.
“We have already warned several times that we will take counteractions for self-defense, including a salvo of missiles into waters near the US territory of Guam,” the KCNA report quoted Kim Kwang Hak, a researcher at the Institute for American Studies of the North Korean Foreign Ministry, as saying.
“The US military action hardens our determination that the US should be tamed with fire and lets us take our hand closer to the ‘trigger’ for taking the toughest countermeasure,” Kim added.
The latest warnings from Pyongyang follow weeks of rising tensions, which promise to escalate further when US and South Korea joint naval exercises begin Monday.
Joint military exercises are particularly infuriating to Pyongyang. The North Korean government views them as a dress rehearsal for an invasion – even as the US insists they are purely defensive in nature.
The KCNA report listed a string of perceived US provocations – including a litany of bombastic threats from President Trump, recent deployments of a US guided-missile submarine and aircraft carrier to the region, and a new round of “high intensity” US and South Korea joint naval drills.
The article ended with a familiar warning: that the US would be solely responsible for “pushing the situation on the peninsula to the point of explosion.”
It would be easy to dismiss this as more bluster from Pyongyang. But North Korea’s latest message indicates the regime may be ready to carry out what would be its most provocative missile test to date – firing four missiles over Japan and landing around 30 to 40 kilometers (18 to 25 miles) off the coast of the tiny island.
North Korea’s Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un has never ruled out the plan to fire missiles into the waters off Guam. During an August 14 inspection of the Strategic Force of the Korean People’s Army, Kim said he would watch for continued “reckless” behavior by the US before making a decision.
Tensions have only escalated sinc