(CNN) Washington – North Korea’s military is “examining the operational plan” to strike areas around Guam with medium-to-long-range strategic ballistic missiles, state-run news agency KCNA said early this morning local time (August 9).
The threat comes just hours after US President Donald Trump warned Pyongyang that if they continued to threaten the US, they would “face fire and fury like the world has never seen.”
The North Korean threat elucidated in its state media is a reaction to the flight of US B-1B bombers over the Korean peninsula. The bombers flew out of Andersen Air Force Base in Guam.
While the statement in KCNA came out following Trump’s threat, it would have taken several hours to draft and translate, and refers directly to the US flights.
“In the morning of August 8 the air pirates of Guam again appeared in the sky above South Korea to stage a mad-cap drill simulating an actual war,” the statement reads.
The bombers flew out of Guam on Monday as part of the US Air Force’s “continuous bomber presence,” according to the spokesman. The bombers were joined by Japanese and South Korean aircraft during their mission.
Trump’s harsh words come as US intelligence analysts have assessed that North Korea has produced a miniaturized nuclear warhead, according to multiple sources familiar with the analysis of North Korea’s missile and nuclear program.
North Korea has long maintained it wants nuclear weapons and long-range missiles in order to deter the United States from attempting to overthrow the regime of Kim Jong Un.
Pyongyang looks at states like Iraq — where former dictator Saddam Hussein was overthrown by the United States, and Libya — the country’s late leader, Moammar Gaddafi, gave up his nuclear ambitions for sanctions relief and aid, only to be toppled and killed after the US intervened in the country’s civil unrest — and believes that only being able to threaten the US homeland with a retaliatory nuclear strike can stop American military intervention.
It is not believed that the capability has been tested, according to the sources.
This is not a consensus view from the entire intelligence community, one US official said. The Washington Post, which was first to publish details, reported that it was the analysis of the Defense Intelligence Agency.
The US official familiar with the analysis of North Korea’s missile and nuclear program says, in reference to North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un’s boasts about the program, “we have to take him at his word and we need to be prepared to deal with it.”
This official said the ‘assessment” is continuing to be refined and updated as more intelligence is collected.
That language echoes comments made by Adm. Harry Harris, the head of the US Pacific Command (PACOM), during a June speech in Australia.
“I know there’s some debate about the miniaturization advancements made by Pyongyang. But PACOM must be prepared to fight tonight, so I take him at his word. I must assume his claims are true — I know his aspirations certainly are,” he said.
The officials all note that the evidence shows North Korea is making progress and the question is more about when not if North Korea is capable of launching a nuclear capable missile.
Key military installation
Dubbed the “Tip of the Spear,” Guam is a key to the US military’s forward deployed presence in the Pacific and is home to thousands of American service members and their families.
The statement from a spokesman from the Strategic Force of the Korean People’s Army, warned that recent US military maneuvers – including an intercontinental ballistic missile test last week and a bomber flight on Monday – “may provoke a dangerous conflict.”
Specifically, the statement mentioned a potential strike on “Andersen Air Force Base in which the US strategic bombers, which get on the nerves of the DPRK and threaten and blackmail it through their frequent visits to the sky above South Korea, are stationed and to send a serious warning signal to the US.”
Top: Naval Base Guam is a Navy Base located in the Island of Guam in the Apra Harbor, a deep water port situated in western Guam’ s central section and is a US Navy and US Air Force-controlled installation that was merged with Andersen Air Force Base to create the Joint Region Marianas in 2009 as a result of the Base Realignment and Closure commission signed in 2005, which created several other joint installations. Photo: Militarybases.co
SOURCE: CNN written by Zachary Cohen, Jim Sciutto and Barbara Starr with Taehoon Lee in Seoul contributing to this report.