North Korea isn’t flinching: it’s announced detailed plans for a missile strike near Guam

Published: 04:37 GMT, Aug 11, 2017 |

In the escalating game of chicken between North Korea and the US, North Korea is showing no signs of flinching: Pyongyang has announced detailed new plans for firing four ballistic missiles that would fly over Japan and land between 19 and 25 miles off the shore of the US territory of Guam.

North Korea says the plan could be ready for sign-off by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un within a week. If he does decide to launch the missiles, it would raise questions of whether the US would attempt to intercept them using the THAAD missile defense system it has stationed at Guam.

If the US intercepted the missiles successfully, it would make the US look stronger, but if it failed, it would be a humiliating spectacle and a blow to the credibility of US power. So it’s not hard to see how firing missiles so close to Guam raises the stakes in the US-North Korean standoff in way the North’s previous ballistic missile tests haven’t.

Recently North Korea has avoided flying the missiles it’s testing over neighboring countries — so the fact that this one would fly over Japan is also a combative gesture. Japan and South Korea have promised a strong response if Kim fires the missiles.

North Korea’s bold announcement is a direct response to President Trump’s recent unprecedented escalation in the war of words between the two countries. On Tuesday, Trump broke with the US tradition of using a measured tone when discussing the threat posed by North Korea and instead spoke with a level of intensity that North Korea typically directs at the US.

“North Korea had best not make any threats against the United States,” Trump told reporters at his golf resort in New Jersey. “They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.”

In the state media report announcing the new plan on Guam, North Korea attempted to call Trump’s bluff, stating that the president had “let out a load of nonsense about ‘fire and fury'” and accusing him of “failing to grasp the on-going grave situation.”

The report also said that “sound dialogue is not possible with such a guy bereft of reason and only absolute force can work on him.”