BEIJING — North Korea reiterated its threat to attack the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam on Thursday, with its military saying it will develop a plan by mid-August to launch four missiles as tensions between Washington and Pyongyang continued to intensify.
In a statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency, the Korean People’s Army said it is “seriously examining” a plan to simultaneously fire four Hwasong-12 intermediate-range ballistic missiles over Japan for an “enveloping strike at Guam.”
North Korea had said Wednesday it was “carefully examining” plans for a missile strike on Guam, making the announcement hours after U.S. President Donald Trump said Tuesday the reclusive country would be met with “fire and fury” if it further threatened the United States.
The missiles will fly for “1,065 seconds,” or 17 minutes and 45 seconds, traveling 3,356.7 kilometers, and “hit the waters 30 to 40 km away from Guam,” according to the statement, attributed to Gen. Kim Rak Gyom, commander of the army’s Strategic Force.
It also said the missiles will “cross the sky above Shimane, Hiroshima and (Kochi) Prefectures of Japan.”
“The military action the KPA is about to take will be an effective remedy for restraining the frantic moves of the U.S. in the southern part of the Korean peninsula and its vicinity,” the statement said.
The Strategic Force will develop the plan by mid-August and present it to leader Kim Jong Un and wait for his order, it said, concluding that “we keep closely watching the speech and behavior of the (United States).”
In a Diet committee later in the day, Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera suggested that any North Korean missile launches could be recognized as a condition enabling Japan’s troops to exercise the right to collective self-defense, or coming to the aid of the United States and other allies under armed attack even if Japan itself is not attacked.
Onodera also acknowledged the possibility of the Maritime Self-Defense Force’s Aegis destroyers intercepting the missiles.
North Korea test-fired an intercontinental ballistic missile on July 4, followed by another ICBM launch on July 28, prompting the U.N. Security Council to impose fresh sanctions on Pyongyang that aim to slash the country’s $3 billion annual export revenue by a third.
The sanctions resolution bans the country from exporting coal, iron, iron ore, lead, lead ore and seafood so as to curb funding sources for its nuclear and missile ambitions.
At the annual security meeting of Asian-Pacific foreign ministers in the Philippines on Monday, North Korea’s Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho defended his country’s nuclear and missile programs as legitimate and self-defensive in nature.
The Washington Post reported Tuesday that North Korea has successfully produced a miniaturized nuclear warhead that can fit inside missiles, citing a confidential U.S. assessment.
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