World

N. Korea plans strike near Guam

Proposed path of its four missiles will fly over Japan, crossing busy sea and air traffic routes

SEOUL/GUAM: North Korea dismissed warnings by US President Donald Trump that it would face "fire and fury" if it threatened the United States and outlined detailed plans yesterday for a missile strike near the US Pacific territory of Guam.

Experts in South Korea said the plans unveiled by the reclusive North ratcheted up risks significantly, since Washington was likely to view any missile aimed at its territory as a provocation, even if launched as a test.

World stocks fell for a third day, after North Korea said it was finalising plans to fire four intermediate-range missiles over Japan to land 30km to 40km from Guam.

The path of the missiles would cross some of the world's busiest sea and air traffic routes.

The North Korean army would complete its plans by the middle of the month, ready for leader Kim Jong Un's order, state-run KCNA news agency reported, citing General Kim Rak Gyom, commander of the Strategic Force of the Korean People's Army.

"The Hwasong-12 rockets to be launched by the KPA (Korean People's Army) will cross the sky above Shimane, Hiroshima and Koichi prefectures of Japan," the report said. "They will fly 3,356.7km for 1,065 seconds and hit the waters 30km to 40km away from Guam."

Mr Cha DoHyeogn of the Asian Institute for Policy Studies in Seoul said: "Even if the missiles do not hit the ocean territory of Guam, the US will not tolerate such a provocation simply because it is a severe threat to its national security."

KCNA said of Mr Trump: "Sound dialogue is not possible with such a guy bereft of reason and only absolute force can work on him." It also said that Mr Trump's comments on Tuesday that any threats by North Korea would be "met with fire and fury like the world has never seen" were "a load of nonsense".

Residents on Guam appeared to be taking things in their stride. And the main beachfront on the island was packed with tourists dozing under trees or on the sun loungers of hotels.

Governor Eddie Calvo said Guam had experienced a Japanese invasion in World War II and countless earthquakes and typhoons, and there was no US community better prepared to meet the North Korean threat.

"We are concerned about these threats, but at the same time, we also want to make sure people don't panic, and go on with their lives. Enjoy the beaches," he said.

Mr Lee Choon Geun of South Korea's state-run Science and Technology Policy Institute said there was a risk that any missile could land much closer to Guam than planned.

"The US will consider it an apparent attack if it lands within its territorial waters and, given the risks involved, will most likely try to shoot them down before they land anywhere close to Guam and its territorial sea," the researcher said.

"This could elevate the threats to an unprecedented level." - REUTERS

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