North Korea threatens attack on Guam by mid-August

South Korean President Moon Jae-in

North Korea threatens attack on Guam by mid-August

North Korea has missiles able to hit Tokyo and conventional weapons that could devastate South Korea's capital of Seoul. USA bombers have flown over the Korean Peninsula several times to show American strength after Pyongyang's missile tests.

China, Pyongyang's sole major ally, would "properly deal with North Korea", Trump said on April 13, after accusing Beijing for months of failing to put pressure on the North.

The United States is likely to "seriously consider" shooting down any North Korean missiles tests aimed at the waters around the US territory of Guam, but experts warn the technology isn't guaranteed to work.

FILE - In this April 13, 2017 file photo, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, center, is accompanied by Pak Pong Ju, right, Hwang Pyong So, second left, as he arrives for the official opening of the Ryomyong residential area, in Pyongyang, North Korea. There is also a a strong military presence in the Western Pacific, between North Korea and Guam, not to mention Guam's own defense infrastructure, he said.

Washington has been testing its missile defenses in response to the North's stepped-up development and the current escalation of tensions could lead to pressure for the USA military to try to shoot down the North's missiles in midflight if they are heading toward Guam. The country, still technically at war with the North after the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce and not a peace treaty, has deployed the USA -built Patriot missile defence system, as well as the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) system. But the state-run China Daily urged efforts to persuade the United States and North Korea to "take a step back from the brink".

"My first order as President was to renovate and modernise our nuclear arsenal".

"With the rise in tensions coinciding with the Ulchi-Freedom Guardian joint South Korea-US military exercises (from August 21 to 31), we can not rule out the possibility of an unintended occurrence", a senior ministry official said.

Washington and Seoul say the exercises are defensive in nature and crucial to maintaining a deterrent against North Korean aggression.

But few of the military options are straightforward, and some former Pentagon officials involved in war planning for North Korea pointed to the complexities. "While we have heard threats like this in the past, I take them very seriously". President William McKinley ordered Guam to be ruled by the U.S. Navy.

On Friday, US President Donald Trump doubled down on his statement that he would unleash "fire and fury like the world has never seen" if Pyongyang continued its threats, saying in a tweet that "military solutions" were "locked and loaded" for use against North Korea. While the latest rhetoric causes concern, that's as far as it goes, he said.

'A catastrophe is looming, ' the South's top-selling Chosun daily said in an editorial this week.

"Welcome to ground zero", a U.S. customs official joked on arrival, aware of the North Korean threat but laughing it off with a bit of gallows humor. The plan would be sent to Kim for approval just before or as the U.S.

North Korea has responded in kind, assuring the USA of "total defeat" in the event of a war and claiming it is preparing for an attack on the American military base in Guam in mid-August.

"Putting these things all together and making them work is extremely challenging, and they haven't yet demonstrated a capability to produce a reliable re-entry vehicle, which is what houses the actual nuclear device", he said.

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