North Korea criticized on Thursday US President Donald Trump’s recent “fire and fury” remarks, saying he is “bereft of reason” before detailing its threat to attack the US Pacific territory of Guam.
“Sound dialogue is not possible with such a guy bereft of reason and only absolute force can work on him,” the official KCNA news service quoted General Kim Rak-Gyom of the Korean People’s Army (KPA) as saying on Thursday.
The statement said the KPA would complete mid-August a plan for the attack, which would involve four rockets flying over Japan, and submit it to Kim Jong-Un for consideration as a “crucial warning to the US”.
The unusually detailed statement said the four missiles would overfly the Japanese prefectures of Shimane, Hiroshima and Koichi. They would have a flight time of 17 minutes 45 seconds, travel 3,356.7 kilometers (around 2,086 miles) and hit the waters 30 to 40 kilometers away from Guam.
Guam is home to US strategic assets including long-range bombers and military jets and submarines, which are regularly deployed for shows of force in and near the Korean peninsula, to Pyongyang’s fury.
Trump this week stunned the world with a bold-faced message to Kim Jong-Un, saying his country faced “fire and fury like the world has never seen”.
Pyongyang then said it was working on a plan to fire simultaneously four ballistic missiles in an enveloping fire around Guam, a key US military stronghold.
Two supersonic US bombers took off from the island on a fly-over mission to the Korean peninsula early this week.
On Thursday, Trump warned Kim Jong Un’s government on Thursday to “get their act together” or face extraordinary trouble, and suggested he had been too mild when he vowed to unleash “fire and fury” on North Korea if it continued to threaten the US.
“Maybe that statement wasn’t tough enough,” Trump said, in the latest US salvo in an escalating exchange of threats between the nuclear-armed nations.
A day after North Korea laid out plans to strike near Guam, there was no observable march toward combat, despite the angry rhetoric from both sides. Still, the stage is set for new confrontation soon.
US and South Korean military officials plan to move ahead with large-scale exercises later this month that North Korea, now finalizing plans to launch a salvo of missiles toward Guam, claims are a rehearsal for war.
The exercises are an annual event, but come as Pyongyang says it is readying a plan to fire off four “Hwasong-12” missiles toward the US island territory and major military hub. The plan would be sent to leader Kim Jong Un for approval just before or as the US-South Korea exercises begin.
Called Ulchi-Freedom Guardian, the exercises are expected to run from August 21-31 and involve tens of thousands of American and South Korean troops on the ground and in the sea and air. Washington and Seoul say the exercises are defensive in nature and crucial to maintaining a deterrent against North Korean aggression.
The exercises were scheduled well before tensions began to rise over Trump’s increasingly fiery rhetoric and North Korea’s announcement of the missile plan, which would be its most provocative launch yet.
Trump declined to say whether the US is considering a preemptive military strike as he spoke to reporters Thursday before a briefing with his top national security advisers at his New Jersey golf resort.
The president insisted the North had been “getting away with a tragedy that can’t be allowed.”
“North Korea better get their act together, or they are going to be in trouble like few nations have ever been in trouble,” Trump said, flanked by Vice President Mike Pence. Accusing his predecessors of insufficient action, Trump said it was time somebody stood up to the pariah nation.
Though tensions have been building for months amid new missile tests by the North, the pace has intensified since the UN Security Council on Saturday passed sweeping new sanctions Trump had requested. The sanctions prompted the new heated volley of rhetoric.
After the North announced its plans to aim missile tests near Guam — home to about 7,000 troops and 160,000 people — US allies Japan and South Korea quickly vowed a strong reaction if it followed through.
Military activity on the Korean Peninsula will rise in any case because of the US-South Korean exercises. Officials in Seoul confirmed Friday that the exercises are expected to begin without any delays, but refused to provide further details.