NK responds to Trump's fire and fury

Reuters
North Korea says it is considering plans for a missile strike on the US Pacific territory of Guam.
Reuters

North Korea said yesterday that it is considering plans for a missile strike on the US Pacific territory of Guam, just hours after President Donald Trump said that any threat to the United States would be met with “fire and fury.”

Pyongyang said it was “carefully examining” a plan to strike Guam, home to about 163,000 people and a US military base that includes a submarine squadron, an airbase and a Coast Guard group.

In a statement carried by the state-run KCNA news agency, a spokesman for the Korean People’s Army said that the plan would be put into practice at any moment once leader Kim Jong Un makes a decision.

Guam Governor Eddie Calvo dismissed the threat and said the island was prepared for “any eventuality” with strategically placed defenses. 

He said he had been in touch with the White House and there was no change in the threat level.

“Guam is American soil ... We are not just a military installation,” Calvo said.

North Korea also accused the US of devising a “preventive war” and said in another statement that any plans to execute this would be met with an “all-out war wiping out all the strongholds of enemies, including the US mainland.”

Washington says it is ready to use force if needed to stop North Korea’s ballistic missile and nuclear programs but that it prefers global diplomatic action, including punitive sanctions. 

The UN Security Council imposed new sanctions on North Korea on Saturday.

Trump issued his strongest warning yet for North Korea in comments to reporters in New Jersey on Tuesday.

“North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen,” he said.

North Korea has made no secret of its plans to develop a nuclear-tipped missile able to strike the US and has ignored calls to halt its weapons programs.

Pyongyang says its intercontinental ballistic missiles are a legitimate means of defense against perceived US hostility, including joint military drills with South Korea.

The US has remained technically at war with North Korea since the 1950-53 Korean conflict ended without a peace treaty.

Seoul is home to roughly 10 million people and in range of massed North Korean rockets and artillery, which would be impossible to destroy in a first US strike.

Tens of thousands of US troops remain stationed in South Korea and in nearby Japan, the only country to have been attacked with nuclear weapons. 

Yesterday was the 72nd anniversary of the atomic bombing of the city of Nagasaki by the US.

“Tension is mounting when it comes to the international situation surrounding nuclear weapons,” Nagasaki Mayor Tomihisa Taue told a ceremony marking the attack.

“Strong fears are spreading that nuclear weapons may be used in the not-so-distant future.” 

A senior official at South Korea’s presidential Blue House rejected talk of a crisis on the Korean Peninsula, saying Seoul saw a high possibility of resolving the issue peacefully.

North Korea needed to realize that its repeated provocations are making the country more isolated and it should respond to South Korea’s proposal for dialogue, he said.

Tensions in the region have risen since North Korea carried out two nuclear bomb tests last year and two intercontinental ballistic missile tests in July.

Japanese fighters conducted joint air drills with US supersonic bombers in Japanese skies close to the Korean Peninsula on Tuesday, Japan’s Air Self Defense Force said.

On Monday, two US B-1 bombers flew from Guam over the Korean Peninsula as part of its “continuous bomber presence,” a US official said, in a sign of Guam’s strategic importance.

Guam is protected by the advanced US Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system.

Madeleine Bordallo, the US Congresswoman for Guam, said she was confident that US forces could protect it from the “deeply troubling” North Korean nuclear threat. 

She called on Trump to show “steady leadership” and work with the international community to lower tensions.


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