North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has been briefed on a proposal to launch missiles near the U.S. territory of Guam in a show of force, but he stopped short of issuing an order to go ahead with the plan, state-run media reports.
Kim received the briefing on Monday during a visit to the headquarters of the Army Strategic Force, according to the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), which said Kim examined the plan for a “long time.”
The leader did not immediately make a decision on the army’s proposal to launch missiles towards Guam, saying instead that he would monitor U.S. actions a little longer. He further called on the U.S. to halt provocations and told the army to be ready for missile launches in case a decision is made.
“He said that the U.S. imperialists caught the noose around their necks due to their reckless military confrontation racket, adding that he would watch a little more the foolish and stupid conduct of the Yankees spending a hard time of every minute of their miserable lot,” KCNA reported.
Kim said the United States had plunged the Korean Peninsula into a touch-and-go situation, noting the upcoming annual military exercises with U.S. and South Korean troops. North Korea considers the military drills a rehearsal for a U.S. invasion.
“In order to defuse the tensions and prevent the dangerous military conflict on the Korean peninsula, it is necessary for the U.S. to make a proper option first and show it through action, as it committed provocations after introducing huge nuclear strategic equipment into the vicinity of the peninsula,” KCNA cited Kim as saying.
KCNA added: “He said that if the Yankees persist in their extremely dangerous reckless actions on the Korean peninsula and in its vicinity, testing the self-restraint of the DPRK, the latter will make an important decision as it already declared, warning the U.S. that it should think reasonably and judge properly not to suffer shame that it is hit by the DPRK again.”
Tensions soared last week on news that the U.S. intelligence community has concluded that North Korea has successfully produced a miniaturized nuclear warhead that can fit inside its long-range missiles, which are in theory capable of reaching the U.S. mainland.
The news prompted Trump to warn North Korea to stop making any further threats to the United States. “They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen,” he said. “[Kim Jong Un] has been very threatening beyond a normal state, and as I said they will be met with fire and fury and frankly power, the likes of which this world has never seen before.”
Just hours later, North Korea said it was considering a show of force in which it would fire four missiles into waters near Guam, from where U.S. bombers have repeatedly taken off to fly over the Korean Peninsula. North Korea also condemned the U.S. for a recent long-range missile test, calling the moves “reckless military provocations.”
The latest developments follow months of escalating tensions on the Korean Peninsula, fueled by North Korea’s frequent missile tests and its advancing nuclear weapons program, as well as U.S. military exercises and statements by U.S. President Donald Trump.
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