Hours after President Donald Trump said he’d respond to more North Korean threats on the US with “fire and fury” unlike the world had ever seen, North Korea responded Tuesday with a threat, saying it was considering a missile strike on Guam.
“He has been very threatening beyond a normal state,” Trump said of Kim Jong Un, North Korea’s leader, looking straight into the assembled cameras at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey. “As I said, they will be met with fire, fury, and frankly power, the likes of which this world has never seen before.”
Just more than two hours later, North Korea’s military released a statement mentioning that it would consider striking Guam, the Pacific island that is home to a massive Air Force base and US nuclear strategic assets, with Hwasong-12s, intermediate-range missiles first tested in May.
North Korea said at the time that the missile could carry a heavy nuclear warhead, and independent analysis seems to fit with that statement. Guam’s homeland security adviser, George Charfauros, sought to reassure the island’s residents, saying its defenses were ready, but Gov. Eddie Calvo took a more sobering tone, saying, “I want to ensure that we are prepared for any eventuality.”
Watch Calvo’s two-minute special address below:
North Korea specifically mentioned the US’s nuclear-capable bombers in Guam, saying they “get on the nerves” of the country “and threaten and blackmail it through their frequent visits to the sky above Korea.” The US usually flies those bombers above the Korean Peninsula in response to North Korean missile tests.
CNN’s Jim Sciutto reported Tuesday that the US had flown two B-1B bombers over the Korean Peninsula out of Andersen Air Force Base in Guam a day earlier as part of “continuous bomber presence.”
- Thomson Reuters
But the US maintains a missile interceptor in Guam specifically designed to protect from medium-range missiles. The missile-defense system, known as Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, has performed well in test conditions but has never intercepted a shot fired in hostility.
“We always maintain a high state of readiness and have the capabilities to counter any threat, to include those from North Korea,” Lt. Col. Christopher Logan, a Pentagon spokesman, told Business Insider.
After the UN Security Council, which includes the US, voted unanimously in favor of heavy sanctions on North Korea over the weekend, Pyongyang responded that it would teach the US a “severe lesson” that exacted a “thousand-fold” revenge on the US.