The latest war of words between the top leaders of the United States and North Korea started on the last day of April and continued to escalate through the intervening months.
North Korea condemned the U.S. for imposing a travel ban to the East Asian country in early August. It was followed by the announcement of additional sanctions from the United Nations, with the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un declaring that the U.S. will pay for its crimes against his country.
On Tuesday, August 8, the war of words escalated when U.S. President Trump warned North Korea that it would suffer “fire and fury” yet unseen by the world, adding that it should stop threatening the United States.
North Korea’s Response in War of Words
Pyongyang responded to the U.S. threats by saying that it will attack Guam, since Trump only recognizes absolute force. A war of words, in his opinion, must be reflected in actions. North Korea claims that in just a week’s time, it will be able to launch four medium-range missiles directed at Guam.
The North Korean general in charge of his country’s rocket command made an announcement over KCNA, the state-run media. He said that the plans to attack the waters close to Guam could be ready by the middle of August. He added that all they have to do is wait for the order of their president to launch the nuclear missile attack.
This pronouncement from North Korea came after Trump tweeted in the war of words that the arsenal of the United States is more powerful and stronger than before, adding that he hopes that his country does not have to use it, all the while claiming that the U.S. will remain as the world’s most powerful nation.
For Pyongyang, Trump’s pronouncements in this war of words are just a lot of nonsense. The general from North Korea added that an action against the strategic U.S. territory in the Pacific would be an effective means to restrain the moves of the U.S. in East Asia.
According to the Yonhap News Agency of South Korea, the planned strike close to Guam would include the simultaneous firing of four intermediate-range ballistic rockets (IRBM), named Hwasong 12.
KCNA reported that if the offensive happens, their rockets would be crossing the Shimane Prefecture, the city of Hiroshima and the Koichi Prefecture.
They would land in the waters about 18 to 24 miles away from the island of Guam. North Korea said that the rockets would travel 3,356.7 km for 1,065 seconds (17.75 minutes) to reach their target.
What’s Happening in the U.S.?
The war of words continues in the U.S. with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis warning that any action by the North Korean leader could put an end to his regime.
He said that Pyongyang would be overmatched in any war it would mount against the United States and its allies. On Wednesday, Mattis released a strongly worded statement. It stated that North Korea should stop its arms program immediately.
Mattis stated that the U.S. State Department is making every effort to settle the threat via diplomatic means. He mentioned that the combined military forces from the U.S. allies are in possession of the most rehearsed, robust and precise offensive and defensive capabilities.
Rex Tillerson, the U.S. Secretary of State, who is currently in Guam, assured Americans that there is no imminent threat from North Korea. He added that he’s hopeful pressure campaigns from China, Russia and other countries could result in a new dialogue with North Korea. That this will go no further than rhetoric and the war of words will not become an actual nuclear war.
Why Target Guam?
Guam is a tiny island in the Pacific, which has been a non-incorporated territory of the U.S since 1898. It has a population of around 163,000. Since it became a U.S. territory, Guamanians are American citizens by birth, although they do not pay U.S. taxes and do not participate in the U.S. elections.
It’s of strategic importance to the U.S. forces, as it is a vital staging post for U.S. military operations in the Taiwan Straits, North Korea, South Korea and South China Sea. Guam hosts two major bases.
In the north is the Andersen Air Force Base while a U.S. Naval Base is located in the south. It also has a THAAD or Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system, which was brought into the island in 2013.