North Korea says it will be ready by mid-August with a plan to fire four missiles near the US territory of Guam as the war of words with Washington intensifies.
Guam in the Pacific, is home to about 163,000 people and a US military base that includes a submarine squadron, and airbase.
Along with describing US President Donald Trump as being “bereft of any reason”, a statement on North Korea’s news agency website said a plan to fire the missiles over Japan towards Guam would soon be ready to await the order of country’s commander-in-chief.
Jim Schoff, Senior Fellow at the Carnegie Institute for Peace said he thought it unlikely North Korea was going to strike Guam:
“Instead of testing their missiles within a relatively close range to North Korea, which they’ve been doing, what if they shot that missile into the EEZ (the exclusive economic zone) of Guam or of California? You know, that would change, I think, the political reality here in the United States.”
Trump’s recent unexpected warning that North Korea would face “fire and fury” if it threatened the United States has fuelled tensions between Washington and Pyongyang and unnerved regional powers.
“It raises doubt in China and in our allies minds, South Korea and Japan, about what our policy really is. And for South Korea, in particular, but also Japan — they’re right in the neighborhood of where the backlash would come if we chose to take some sort of military strike because we decide that we can’t tolerate this vulnerability,” added Jim Schoff.
My first order as President was to renovate and modernize our nuclear arsenal. It is now far stronger and more powerful than ever before….— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 9, 2017
While the situation has triggered alarm and anti-war protests in Washington, the White House claims nothing has dramatically changed in the last few days and once again urged Pyongyang to halt its arms programme.
Tension in the region has risen since North Korea carried out two nuclear bomb tests last year and two intercontinental ballistic missile tests in July. Trump has said he will not allow Pyongyang to develop a nuclear weapon capable of hitting the United States.