North Korea has called President Donald Trump’s warning of “fire and fury” a “load of nonsense” and threatened to go ahead with its plans for a missile strike near the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam
Pyongyang’s state-run KCNA news agency issued an update on its strike plans after Trump’s incendiary comments on Tuesday that threats to the United States from Pyongyang would be met with “fire and fury.”
Trump’s unexpected remarks prompted North Korea to say it was considering plans to fire four intermediate-range missiles to land 30-40 kilometers (18-25 miles) from Guam, home to about 163,000 people and a U.S. military base that includes a submarine squadron, an air base and a Coast Guard group.
The army will complete its plans in mid-August, ready for North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s order, KCNA said on Wednesday, citing General Kim Rak Gyom, commander of the Strategic Force of the Korean People’s Army.
The news agency said Trump “let out a load of nonsense about ‘fire and fury’,” adding “sound dialogue is not possible with such a guy bereft of reason and only absolute force can work on him.”
On global markets, the strong rhetoric and sharp increase in tensions drove investors out of stocks and other risky assets on Wednesday and into textbook safe havens like gold and Treasuries.
U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis issued a stark warning earlier on Wednesday, telling Pyongyang the United States and its allies would win any arms race or conflict.
“The DPRK should cease any consideration of actions that would lead to the end of its regime and the destruction of its people,” Mattis said in a statement, using the acronym for North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
The United States and South Korea remain technically still at war with North Korea after the 1950-53 Korean conflict ended with a truce, not a peace treaty. North Korea regularly threatens to destroy the United States.
BOASTS ABOUT POWER
Tension in the region has risen since North Korea carried out two nuclear bomb tests last year and two intercontinental ballistic missile tests in July. Trump has said he will not allow Pyongyang to develop a nuclear weapon capable of hitting the United States.
On Wednesday, Trump followed up his “fire and fury” warning with a boast about U.S. nuclear capabilities.
“My first order as President was to renovate and modernize our nuclear arsenal. It is now far stronger and more powerful than ever before,” Trump tweeted. “Hopefully we will never have to use this power, but there will never be a time that we are not the most powerful nation in the world!”
Trump’s “fire and fury” remarks prompted warnings from U.S. officials and analysts not to engage in rhetorical games with Pyongyang.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who was in Guam on a previously scheduled visit, played down the rhetoric, saying he did not believe there was an imminent threat from North Korea and “Americans should sleep well at night.”
Trump’s “fire and fury” warning was meant to send a “strong message to North Korea in language that (North Korean leader) Kim Jong Un would understand, because he doesn’t seem to understand diplomatic language,” Tillerson said.