President Donald Trump warned North Korea on Tuesday it would face “fire and fury” if it threatens the United States, prompting the nuclear-armed nation to say it was considering firing missiles at Guam, a U.S.-held Pacific island.
As tensions escalated, Pyongyang said it was “carefully examining” a plan to strike Guam, site of a U.S. military base. A North Korean military spokesman, in a statement carried by state-run KCNA news agency, said the plan would be put into practice once leader Kim Jong Un makes a decision.
In another statement citing a different military spokesman, North Korea said it could carry out a pre-emptive operation if there were signs of a U.S. provocation.
Washington has warned it is ready to use force if need be to stop North Korea’s ballistic missile and nuclear programs but that it prefers global diplomatic action, including sanctions.
The consequences of any U.S. strike would potentially be catastrophic not only for North Koreans but also South Korea, Japan and the thousands of U.S. military personnel within range of any North Korean retaliatory strikes.
“North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen,” Trump told reporters at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey.
The U.N. Security Council unanimously imposed new sanctions on North Korea on Saturday over its continued missile tests, that could slash the reclusive country’s $3 billion annual export revenue by a third.
North Korea has made no secret of plans to develop a nuclear-tipped missile able to strike the United States and has ignored international calls to halt its nuclear and missile programs.
It says its intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) are a legitimate means of defense against perceived U.S. hostility. It has long accused the United States and South Korea of escalating tensions by conducting military drills.