North Korea dismissed on Thursday warnings by U.S. President Donald Trump that it would face “fire and fury” if it threatened the United States as a “load of nonsense”, and outlined detailed plans for a missile strike near the Pacific territory of Guam.
North Korea’s apparently rapid progress in developing nuclear weapons and missiles capable of reaching the U.S. mainland has fuelled tensions that erupted into a war of words between Washington and Pyongyang this week, unnerving regional powers and global investors.
Trump’s unexpected remarks prompted North Korea to say on Thursday it was finalising plans to fire four intermediate-range missiles over Japan to land 30-40 km (18-25 miles) from Guam, more than 3,000 km (2,000 miles) to the south.
Guam is home to about 163,000 people and a U.S. military base that includes a submarine squadron, an air base, and a Coast Guard group.
“Sound dialogue is not possible with such a guy bereft of reason and only absolute force can work on him,” a report by the North’s state-run KCNA news agency said of Trump.
The army will complete its plans in mid-August, ready for North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s order, KCNA reported, citing General Kim Rak Gyom, commander of the Strategic Force of the Korean People’s Army.
While North Korea regularly threatens to destroy the United States and its allies, the report was unusual in its detail.
Masao Okonogi, professor emeritus at Japan’s Keio University, said the North Korean reports suggested Pyongyang was issuing a warning or advance notice of changes to its missile testing programme rather than threatening an attack.
“I believe this is a message saying they plan to move missile tests from the Sea of Japan to areas around Guam,” he told Reuters. “By making this advance notice, they are also sending a tacit message that what they are going to do is not an actual attack.”