By Agence France-Presse
President Donald Trump issued an apocalyptic warning to North Korea on Tuesday, saying it faces “fire and fury” over its missile program, after US media reported Pyongyang has successfully miniaturized a nuclear warhead.
North Korea raised the stakes just hours later, saying it was considering missile strikes near US strategic military installations on the Pacific island of Guam.
Once finalized, the plan could be put into action at “any moment” once leader Kim Jong-Un made a decision, the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) quoted a military statement as saying.
Trump’s remarks marked a sharp rise in rhetoric from the US — and appear to echo Pyongyang’s own regular threats, most recently repeated on Monday, to turn Seoul into a “sea of flames”.
“North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States,” said Trump, speaking from his golf club in New Jersey. “They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.”
They also represent a change in tone from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s assurances last week that Washington was not seeking regime change in Pyongyang.
The remote island of Guam — a 210-square-mile dot in the Pacific – is a key US military outpost and home to some 6,000 US troops spread across facilities including the sprawling Anderson Air Force Base, as well as Naval Base Guam.
The North’s statement came after US B1-B bombers overflew the Korean peninsula on Tuesday, which KCNA said “proves that the US imperialists are nuclear war maniacs”.
The Washington Post quoted a Defense Intelligence Agency analysis as saying officials think North Korea now has “nuclear weapons for ballistic missile delivery” — including in its intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) — making it a potent threat against neighbors and possibly the United States.
The Pentagon did not comment on the story, but the Post said two US officials familiar with the analysis had verified the assessment’s broad conclusions, and CNN said it had confirmed the report.