North Korea’s army released a statement Wednesday repeating and specifying its threat to launch nuclear-capable missiles near Guam, the US territory in the Pacific that is home to massive US Air Force and Navy bases.
State media also responded directly to US President Donald Trump’s threats, calling them “absolute nonsense” and saying “only absolute force can work on him.”
North Korea says it is “seriously examining the plan for an enveloping strike at Guam through simultaneous fire of four Hwasong-12 intermediate-range strategic ballistic rockets in order to interdict the enemy forces on major military bases on Guam and to signal a crucial warning to the US,” according to a translation of the statement on South Korea’s Yonhap News.
The statement said the country would fire four missiles that would fly over Japan before crashing down in the waters 18 to 25 miles from Guam, a more specific threat than what the Hermit Kingdom had said Tuesday.
The statement said it would complete plans for the launch by mid-August, at which point they would be submitted to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
An attack like North Korea described in the statement would be incredibly risky, as the Hwasong-12 missile has been tested only once and has unpredictable performance and unreliable accuracy.
The US fields the world’s most advanced missile-defense system in Guam, but a large salvo of missiles could overwhelm its defenses.
“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 recently.
The US military keeps a continuous presence of nuclear-capable bombers in Guam, which would make it an attractive target for a nuclear strike. North Korea specifically mentioned these bombers, “which get on the nerves of DPRK and threaten and blackmail it through their frequent visits to the sky above Korea,” in its first threat Tuesday.
Both Trump and Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis warned in recent days that North Korea’s provocations could lead to the state’s destruction.
Mattis stressed in a statement Wednesday that the US and South Korea combined had “the most precise, rehearsed, and robust defensive and offensive capabilities on earth.”
On Tuesday, Trump said the US would respond to more North Korean threats with “fire and fury” unlike the world had ever seen. Trump boasted about the US nuclear arsenal Wednesday morning, but he tweeted that “hopefully we will never have to use” nuclear weapons.