North Korea details Guam missile plan as it scoffs at Trump

Reuters
North Korea dismissed warnings by US President Donald Trump and outlined detailed plans on Thursday for a missile strike near the US Pacific territory of Guam.
Reuters
AFP

North Koreans rally in support of North Korea's stance against the US, on Kim Il-Sung square in Pyongyang on Wednesday. North Korea on August 10 said US President Donald Trump was "bereft of reason" and would only respond to force, as it elaborated on a threat to attack the US Pacific territory of Guam.

North Korea dismissed warnings by US President Donald Trump that it would face "fire and fury" if it threatened the United States and outlined detailed plans on Thursday for a missile strike near the US Pacific territory of Guam.

Experts in South Korea said the plans unveiled by the North ratcheted up risks significantly, since Washington was likely to view any missile aimed at its territory as a provocation, even if launched as a test.

North Korea's apparently rapid progress in developing nuclear weapons and missiles capable of reaching the US mainland has fuelled tensions that erupted into a war of words between Washington and Pyongyang this week.

North Korea said it was finalising plans to fire four intermediate-range missiles over Japan to land 30-40 km from Guam, adding detail to a plan first announced on Wednesday.

Guam, a tropical island more than 3,000 km (2,000 miles) to the southeast of North Korea, is home to about 163,000 people and a US Navy installation that includes a submarine squadron, a Coast Guard group and an air base.

As announced by North Korea, the planned path of the missiles would cross some of the world's busiest sea and air traffic routes.

The North Korean army would complete its plans in mid-August, ready for leader Kim Jong Un's order, state-run KCNA news agency reported, citing General Kim Rak Gyom, commander of the Strategic Force of the Korean People's Army.

"The Hwasong-12 rockets to be launched by the KPA (Korean People's Army) will cross the sky above Shimane, Hiroshima and Koichi Prefectures of Japan," the report said. "They will fly 3,356.7 km (2,085.8 miles) for 1,065 seconds and hit the waters 30 to 40 km away from Guam."

While North Korea regularly threatens to destroy the United States and its allies, the report was unusual in its detail. It follows two successful tests of an intercontinental missile by the isolated state in July and a series of other missile tests.

Major airlines that fly over the region however said they had so far made no plans to change flight paths.

"Sound dialogue is not possible with such a guy bereft of reason and only absolute force can work on him," KCNA said of Trump. It said Trump's comments on Tuesday that any threats by North Korea would be "met with fire and fury like the world has never seen" were "a load of nonsense".

Visitors and residents on Guam appeared to be taking things in their stride. The main beach front on the island was packed with tourists dozing under trees or on the sun loungers of five-star hotels lined up before a calm sea.

Governor Eddie Calvo said Guam had experienced a Japanese invasion in World War Two and countless earthquakes and super-typhoons, and there was no US community better prepared to meet the North Korean threat.

"We are concerned about these threats but at the same time we also want to make sure people don't panic and go on with their lives. Enjoy the beaches," he said.

The US Seventh Fleet currently has six Aegis ballistic missile defence ships in the region capable of targeting North Korean missiles, and Japan has a further four. Guam also has a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system, similar to one recently installed in South Korea.

Japan could legally intercept a North Korean missile headed towards Guam, its defence minister said on Thursday, but experts believe Japan does not currently have the capability to do so.

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