SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea and President Donald Trump issued dueling threats Wednesday, with the communist state saying it’s “examining” a plan to strike Guam and Trump warning such threats “will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.”
The heated rhetoric underscored a dangerous turn in the long-running standoff with Pyongyang after it test-fired two intercontinental ballistic missiles last month.
North Korea’s army singled out the U.S. territory, which is home to Andersen Air Force Base and thousands of U.S. servicemembers, in a statement on its state-run news agency.
North Korea said its strategic force is “carefully examining the operational plan for making an enveloping fire at areas around Guam with medium-to-long range strategic ballistic missiles … in order to contain the major U.S. military bases on Guam.”
Guam’s governor reassured residents that there was no imminent threat to the island and defenses are in place to protect it.
“My Homeland Security Advisor who is in communications with Homeland Security and Department of Defense notes that there is no change in threat level resulting from North Korea events,” Gov. Edward Calvo said in a statement Wednesday.
He added that 200,000 Americans live in Guam and the nearby Northern Mariana Islands.
The North Korean army said the move is in response to a recent U.S. ICBM test.
The Air Force also sent a pair of Guam-based supersonic bombers over the Korean Peninsula Tuesday in a show of force. The B-1B Lancers flew from Guam to Japanese air space where they were joined by Japanese fighter jets, U.S. Pacific Command said.
They then flew to the divided peninsula, where they were joined by South Korean fighter jets and made a pass over the Pilsung military training range before returning to Andersen Air Force Base.
The 10-hour mission was the second such deployment this month. The Lancers conducted a similar flyover last week after North Korea conducted its second ICBM test.
North Korea has made swift progress toward its stated goal of being able to target the U.S. mainland with a nuclear-tipped missile. It also has conducted five underground nuclear tests, including two last year.
U.S. intelligence analysts recently determined the North has produced a miniaturized nuclear warhead, according to the Washington Post. The newspaper cited unnamed intelligence officials as saying the Defense Intelligence Agency determined that in an analysis completed last month.
The Washington Post also reported another intelligence assessment now estimates the North has as many as 60 nuclear bombs in its arsenal. Other assessments range from a dozen to 30 weapons.
Japan’s Defense Ministry also said Tuesday in an annual report that “it is possible that North Korea has achieved the miniaturization of nuclear weapons and has developed nuclear warheads.”
If true, the miniaturization of warheads to fit on the tip of a missile would clear a major hurdle in the North’s efforts.
The reports prompted Trump to issue a stern ultimatum.
“North Korea had best not make any more threats to the United States,” he said in televised remarks at his golf course in Bedminster, N.J. “They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.”
“He has been very threatening beyond a normal state. And as I said they will be met with fire, fury and frankly power the likes of which this world has never seen before,” Trump said, referring to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
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This article is written by Kim Gamel from Stars and Stripes and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to email@example.com.