Kim delays decision on Guam missile plan

Reuters
North Korea’s leader has delayed a decision on firing missiles toward Guam while he waits to see what the United States does next.
Reuters

North Korea’s leader has delayed a decision on firing missiles toward Guam while he waits to see what the United States does next, the country’s state media said yesterday. Meanwhile, South Korea’s president said Seoul would seek to prevent war by all means.

In his first public appearance in about two weeks, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inspected the command of the army on Monday, examining a plan to fire four missiles to land near the US Pacific territory of Guam, the official KCNA said.

“He said that if the Yankees persist in their extremely dangerous reckless actions on the Korean Peninsula and in its vicinity, testing the self-restraint of the DPRK, the latter will make an important decision as it already declared,” the report said.

North Korea’s official name is the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).

In photos released with the KCNA report, Kim was seen holding a baton and pointing at a map showing a flight path for missiles appearing to start from North Korea’s east coast, flying over Japan toward Guam. 

North Korea has often threatened to attack the United States and its bases and has released similar photos in the past.

Plans to fire missiles near Guam prompted a surge in tensions in the region last week, with US President Donald Trump saying the US military was “locked and loaded” if North Korea acted unwisely.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in said there would be no military action without Seoul’s consent and his government would prevent war by all means. “Military action on the Korean Peninsula can only be decided by South Korea and no one else can decide to take military action without the consent of South Korea,” Moon said in a speech to commemorate the anniversary of the nation’s liberation from Japanese military rule in 1945.

“The government, putting everything on the line, will block war by all means,” Moon said.

The Liberation Day holiday, celebrated by both North Korea and South Korea, will be followed next week by joint US-South Korean military drills.

North Korea has persisted with its nuclear and missile programs to ward off US hostility, in defiance of UN Security Council resolutions and sanctions.

China has repeatedly urged North Korea to halt its weapons program, at the same time urging South Korea and the US to halt military drills to lower tensions on the peninsula.

Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said yesterday that the crisis was approaching a critical juncture, and she urged all sides in the standoff to help “put out the flames” and not add fuel to the fire.

Hua said she noted comments by US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson about using diplomacy to resolve the issue, saying China hoped these words can be put into action.

“We also call on North Korea to echo this in response,” Hua told a daily news briefing.

On Guam, home to a US air base, a navy installation, a Coast Guard group and roughly 6,000 US military personnel, residents expressed some relief at the lessening of tensions.

“I’m reading between the lines that I don’t see an imminent threat,” Guam Lieutenant Governor Ray Tenorio told reporters.


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