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(CNN)North Korea is working on a plan to fire four missiles into the sea off Guam, which will be ready to present to leader Kim Jong Un by mid-August, state media KCNA reported Thursday.

The plan, if implemented, would see four Hwasong-12 intermediate-range ballistic missiles fired into waters 30 to 40 kilometers (18 to 25 miles) off the coast of the US territory in response to escalating rhetoric from President Donald Trump.

Earlier this week, Trump vowed to meet any additional threats from Pyongyang with "fire and fury," a statement backed by strong words from US Defense Secretary James Mattis.

North Korea must "cease any consideration of actions that would lead to the end of its regime and destruction of its people," Mattis said in a written statement Wednesday.

Earlier, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had sought to defuse tensions by saying there was no sign the threat level of North Korea had changed and that Americans should "sleep well at night."

'Load of nonsense'

However, the new statement from North Korea's state media made clear that Kim is in no mood to back down.

TRUMP, KIM RAMP UP RHETORIC

 

 

It criticizes Trump for having "let out a load of nonsense about 'fire and fury,' and accused him of "failing to grasp the on-going grave situation."

"This is extremely getting on the nerves of the infuriated Hwasong artillerymen of the KPA," it said, referring to the Korean People's Army.

The article states that "sound dialogue is not possible with such a guy bereft of reason and only absolute force can work on him."

It ends by putting the US on notice about any further threats against it, "we keep closely watching the speech and behavior from the US."

The sudden escalation in tensions in the Pacific came after US intelligence analysts assessed that North Korea has now produced a miniaturized nuclear warhead, according to multiple sources familiar with the analysis of North Korea's missile and nuclear program.

There is no indication that the Hwasong-12 missiles that could be fired near Guam would be tipped with nuclear warheads.

Four rockets flying 1,065 seconds

The KCNA report includes detailed provisional plans to launch four rockets "above Shimane, Hiroshima and Koichi Prefectures of Japan," and specified they would fly 3,356.7 kilometers (2,000 miles) for 1,065 seconds" as a "crucial warning to the US."

The KPA Strategic Force will present the final plan for the launch to commander-in-chief of North Korea's nuclear force -- Kim -- by mid-August and "wait for his order," the report said.

Should Kim give the go-ahead, it would not be the first time a North Korean rocket has crossed over Japanese territory.

Pyongyang's 2012 Kwangmyongsong-3 satellite launch -- considered to be a major developmental step in the country's missile program -- flew over Japan's southern Okinawa islands. Previous launches have crossed the country's main island, Honshu, including one in 2009.

Escalation in tensions

Last month Pyongyang tested two intercontinental ballistic missiles, known as Hwasong-14, which it says are capable of hitting the US mainland.

In response to the missile tests, the UN Security Council passed a resolution imposing new sanctions. The resolution, which targets North Korea's international revenue streams, was passed unanimously after strong lobbying from the United States. The US separately announced sanctions on North Korea, alongside Iran and Russia.

KCNA said that a KPA spokesman had "fully warned the US against its all-round sanctions."

Likely to follow threat through?

Some analysts do not think that Kim will follow through on this very specific threat against the US territory.

North Korea is "trying to ratchet up the threat to create political pressure in the US and elsewhere to get talks," says Carl Schuster, a Hawaii Pacific University professor and former director of operations at the US Pacific Command's Joint Intelligence Center.

"They've noticed that we've never sought conflict with an adversary who can hit our territory (and they) hope that this (threat) will force a more diplomatic line."

Despite the looming threat of a North Korean strike, Guamanians are reacting with calm. Following Pyongyang's first threat, many Guam residents remained unfazed.

One expressed confidence that the military would be able to deal with any incoming threat.

"I'm quite confident that the US and its military assets on Guam and in the region will protect our island," said Sinajana resident Joshua Tenorio.

While there was a feeling that Guam would remain safe, others expressed a concern that there would be wider escalations.

"I hear we have missile counter sites on our island that will shoot down anything that leaves North Korea," said Dededo resident John Santos.

"There are bombers located in South Korea that'll be airborne in minutes.

"The problem is both President Trump and Kim Jong Un) are letting their egos get in the way of decision making. The scary part is North Korea is still threatening and Trump might get itchy and just push the destruct button."

Threat to strike

The latest threat comes on the heels of a previous KCNA report that North Korea's military was "examining the operational plan" to strike areas around the US territory of Guam with medium-to-long-range strategic ballistic missiles.

WHY IS NORTH KOREA THREATENING TO ATTACK GUAM?

 

  • The tiny Pacific island, the largest in the Marianas group, is home to two significant US military bases.
  • Bomber sorties flown above South Korea Tuesday originated from Guam's Andersen Air Force Base.
  • Around 5,000 US military personnel are based on the island, which is a US territory.
  • It is often referred to as the "tip of the spear" and home to the US' most westerly military installations.
  • Except US bases in Japan and South Korea, it's the closest US base to North Korea.

 

Specifically, that statement mentioned a potential strike on Andersen Air Force Base designed "to send a serious warning signal to the US."

The base is one of two on the Pacific island, which are the closest bases on US soil to North Korea, and represent the westernmost tip of the country's military might.

Dubbed the "tip of the spear," Guam is a key to the US military's forward deployed presence in the Pacific and is home to thousands of American service members and their families.

Its importance has declined since World War II, given the creation of military bases in Japan and South Korea, said Schuster. Now it is essentially a staging area, which sees rotations of bomber groups coming through.

Journalist Robert Santos in Guam and CNN's Taehoon Lee in Seoul contributed reporting

News Courtesy: www.cnn.com

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