North Korea and the United States are exchanging threats, with US President Donald Trump threatening Pyongyang “with fire and fury like the world has never seen” and the North’s military claiming Wednesday it was examining plans to attack Guam.
The comments followed reports that US intelligence now believes Pyongyang has successfully produced a nuclear warhead that can fit inside its missiles.
Amid rising tension surrounding the Korean Peninsula, South Korean President Moon Jae-in called for a complete and thorough overhaul of the country’s armed services Wednesday, highlighting an “urgent” need to enhance the country’s defense capabilities against North Korea’s evolving nuclear and missile technologies.
Financial markets in Seoul lost ground, as nervous investors dumped Korean assets. The main stock index Kospi shed 1.1 percent to close at 2.368.39, while the secondary Kosdaq lost 1.35 percent.
Seoul’s finance minister sought to soothe market jitters, saying the government is keeping close tabs on the local financial market following the latest North Korean provocations.
“We are watching the market around-the-clock, but its impact seems to be limited,” Finance Minister Kim Dong-yeon said during a meeting with economy-related ministers in central Seoul. “We are mapping out plans for various scenarios.”
In a statement distributed by its state-run news agency, the North’s Strategic Force of the Korean People’s Army said it was studying a plan to create an “enveloping fire” in areas around Guam, a US territory in the Pacific about 3,400 kilometers from the Korean Peninsula, with its medium- to long-range ballistic rocket Hwasong-12.
Anderson Air Force Base, home to US strategic bombers, was mentioned as a potential target, with North Korea viewing the bombers as threats and “blackmail” against the communist state. The statement referred to a S. Korea-US joint air drill Tuesday, during which two B-1B Lancers and South Korean fighter jets flew over Korea.
North Korea added the plan would be thoroughly scrutinized and evaluated before its leader Kim Jong-un could issue a launch order.
The statement came hours after Trump made the “fire and fury” comments to a camera at his golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey, after a report about the North’s advancement in its nuclear weapons program.
The nuclear advances were detailed in an official Japanese assessment and a Washington Post story that cited US intelligence officials and a confidential Defense Intelligence Agency report. The US now puts the North Korean arsenal at up to 60 nuclear weapons, more than double most assessments by independent experts, according to the Post’s reporting.
“North Korea had best not make any more threats to the United States,” said a stern-looking Trump, seated with his arms crossed and with his wife beside him. “They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.”
In a recent interview with MSNBC, Trump’s top security adviser H.R. McMaster said that the US is considering a “preventive war” with North Korea among other options to fend off the North’s nuke and missile threats.
From news reports