SEOUL/BEDMINSTER, N.J. (Reuters) – North Korea said on Wednesday it is considering plans for a missile strike on the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam, just hours after President Donald Trump told the North that any threat to the United States would be met with “fire and fury”.
The sharp increase in tensions rattled financial markets and prompted warnings from U.S. officials and analysts not to engage in rhetorical slanging matches with North Korea.
Pyongyang said it was “carefully examining” a plan to strike Guam, home to a U.S. military base that includes a submarine squadron, an airbase and a Coast Guard group.
A Korean People’s Army spokesman said in a statement carried by state-run KCNA news agency the plan would be put into practice at any moment once leader Kim Jong Un makes a decision.
North Korea also accused the United States of devising a “preventive war” and said in another statement, citing a different military spokesman, any plans to execute this would be met with an “all-out war wiping out all the strongholds of enemies, including the U.S. mainland”.
Washington has warned it is ready to use force if needed to stop North Korea’s ballistic missile and nuclear programs but that it prefers global diplomatic action, including sanctions. The U.N. Security Council unanimously imposed new sanctions on North Korea on Saturday.
Trump issued his strongest warning yet for North Korea in comments to reporters in New Jersey on Tuesday.
“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 said.
North Korea has made no secret of its 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.
Pyongyang 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.
U.S. stocks closed slightly lower after Trump’s comment and S&P stock futures ESc1 slipped further in Asian trade, while a widely followed measure of stock market anxiety .VIX ended at its highest in nearly a month.
The U.S. dollar index .DXY edged down and the safe-haven yen JPY= strengthened against the U.S. currency after North Korea’s response. Asia stocks dipped, with South Korea’s benchmark index .KS11 and Japan’s Nikkei .N225 both falling 0.5…