North Korea delays plans to strike US territory of Guam
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has delayed his decision to fire four indigenously developed ballistic missiles towards Guam, the North's state media reported. The US said the move isn't enough and that the North should show "intent on denuclearising the Korean peninsula." Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the Washington is interested in holding dialogue with Pyongyang, but it's up to Kim.
In line with its Guam threat, North Korea's state media has reported that its Supreme Leader was briefed on plans to launch a missile strike on Guam. According to the report, Kim Jong-un examined the Guam strike plan and discussed it with senior military officials. The news comes amid an aggressive war of words between North Korea and President Trump. Let's know more!
The report came after US Defense Secretary James Mattis noted that the US military would defend the country "from any attack, at any time and from any quarter". He further reassured Guam residents by vowing to "take it out" if North Korea acts out.
According to the report which appeared in the state news agency, KCNA the country's strategic forces are prepared to "envelop Guam with fire". It is merely waiting on orders to do this. The report further noted that Kim Jong-un would watch US behavior before arriving at a decision. Can this be taken to mean that North Korea may de-escalate if the US exhibits composure?
North tested an Inter-continental Ballistic Missile last month. Kim Jong-un noted that the ICBM would bring the entire US within striking range. In response, Trump threatened North with "fire and fury". The UN permanent five also slapped fresh sanctions on North. Last week, North Korea's military said it is considering launching missiles on Guam, a US base in the Pacific housing American strategic bombers.
North Korea has run an ambitious nuclear program since the 1950s, although it performs poorly under several socio-economic indicators. Having conducted five tests between 2006-2016, the leadership's spontaneous behaviour, along with its threatening tone aimed at those including the US, create an atmosphere of insecurity.
North says it was compelled towards formulating an attack plan for Guam. It feels threatened by American B-1B bombers, stationed in Guam, constantly flying above the Korean Peninsula, especially during heightened tension. These bombers may just give North an opportunity to test out their Hwasong-12 intermediate-range missiles. Conversely, if they stay on ground, Pyongyang can claim a victory over US. A tricky situation?
The latest report may merely be looked at as more threatening rhetoric. Making the decision to launch a strike conditional on US actions can further be seen as indicative of North Korea's willingness to de-escalate. Analysts also note that North Korea may be creating a diversion to buy itself more time and prepare for an attack. To conclude, with North Korea, you'll never know.