North Korea threatens US airbase in Guam, as Trump promises 'fire and fury'
Pyongyang claims missile strike could hit US Pacific territory, warning any
American military action would provoke ‘all-out war’
Current Time 0:00
Duration Time 0:36
Trump threatens North Korea with ‘fire and fury’
Justin McCurry in Tokyo
Wednesday 9 August 2017 04.51 BST Last modified on Wednesday 9 August 2017
North Korea has said it is considering a missile strike on the US Pacific
territory of Guam, just hours after Donald Trump warned the regime that any
threat to the United States would be met with “fire and fury”.
The threat, carried by the state-run KCNA news agency, marked a dramatic
rise in tensions and prompted warnings to Washington not to become
embroiled in a bellicose slanging match with North Korea.
Pyongyang said it was “carefully examining” a plan to strike Guam, located
3,400km (2,100 miles) away, and threatened to create an “enveloping fire”
around the territory.
Guam is home to a US military base that includes a submarine squadron, an
airbase and a coastguard group.
Guam’s governor, Eddie Calvo, on Wednesday attempted to reassure residents
that there was “no threat” of a North Korean strike, but added that the
island was prepared for “any eventuality”.
Calvo added: “Guam is American soil … We are not just a military
In an online video message he said he had been told by the US defence and
homeland security departments that there was no change in the threat level.
A Korean people’s army (KPA) spokesman said in a statement Wednesday that a
plan would be put into practice as soon as the order to attack Guam was
issued by the country’s leader, Kim Jong-un.
“The KPA strategic force is now carefully examining the operational plan
for making an enveloping fire at the areas around Guam with medium- to
long-range strategic ballistic rocket Hwasong-12 in order to contain the US
major military bases on Guam, including the Anderson airforce base,” the
KCNA quoted a second army spokesman accusing Washington of devising a
“preventive war”, adding that any attempt to attack the North would provoke
“all-out war, wiping out all the strongholds of enemies, including the US
The US should cease its “reckless military provocation” against North Korea
to avoid such a reaction, the spokesman added.
In response, South Korea’s president, Moon Jae-in, called for an overhaul
of the country’s armed services, citing an “urgent” need to improve its
ability to defend against North Korean missile attacks.
“I believe we might need a complete defence reform at the level of a
rebirth, instead of making some improvements or modifications,” Moon told
senior military officials, according to Yonhap news agency.
Australian prime minister rejects Trump's 'fire and fury' response to North
“Another urgent task now facing us is securing defence capabilities to
counter North Korea’s nuclear and missile provocations.”
The unification ministry, which handles cross-border relations, said the
threat against Guam would damage attempts to improve inter-Korean ties. A
ministry spokesman said the South was committed to dialogue and sanctions,
and urged Pyongyang to end its provocations.
Tensions in the region have risen since North Korea carried out two nuclear
bomb tests last year and test-launched two intercontinental ballistic
missiles last month. The UN security council responded last weekend by
unanimously agreeing sanctions designed to deprive the regime of around a
billion US dollars in hard currency.
North Korea’s bellicose language is causing anxiety in Japan, whose defence
ministry warned on Tuesday that it was possible that Pyongyang had
miniaturised its nuclear weaponry, while a leaked US intelligence
assessment claimed the regime had successfully produced a miniaturised
nuclear warhead that can fit inside its missiles.
Japanese fighters conducted joint air drills with US supersonic bombers
near the Korean peninsula on Tuesday, Japan’s air self-defence forces said.
A day earlier, two US B-1 bombers flew from Guam over the Korean peninsula
as part of its “continuous bomber presence”, a US official said.
US security and defence officials in Guam, which is within range of North
Korean medium- and long-range missiles, said there was no imminent threat
to people there or elsewhere in the Northern Mariana Islands.
Guam’s department of homeland security and office of civil defence said
they were monitoring North Korea with US military and government officials.
Guam’s homeland security adviser, George Charfauros, said officials were
confident that the US defence department was “monitoring this situation
very closely and is maintaining a condition of readiness”.
But the speaker of the Guam legislature, Benjamin J Cruz, said people on
the island were “just praying that the United States and the … defence
system we have here is sufficient enough to protect us”. Cruz told the
Associated Press that the threat was “very disconcerting”.
Analysis Trump's dire rhetoric echoes language of North Korean propaganda
The US president’s threats have made a dangerous standoff more
unpredictable – and analysts say the attempt to intimidate Pyongyang could
He added: “It forces us to pause and to say a prayer for the safety of our
In his strongest warning yet to North Korea, Trump told reporters in New
Jersey on Tuesday: “North Korea best not make any more threats to the
United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never
The New Zealand prime minister condemnded Trump’s comments, in an unusually
“I think the comments are not helpful in an environment that is very
tense,” Bill English told local media. He said his government had yet to
express concerns to the US administration directly, but “certainly if that
type of commentary continued we would”.
English added: “I think we are seeing reaction from North Korea that
indicates that kind of comment is more likely to escalate rather than
But North Korea experts played down the potential for a military strike on
Guam. “There’s rhetoric on both sides – it’s like two bullies in the
playground yelling at each other,” said Robert Kelly, associate professor
at Pusan National University.
“I think the North Koreans just pulled the Guam threat out of the air.
Sure, there’s some sort of rough plan on a shelf somewhere, because Guam is
an important American reinforcement point, but I don’t think there is
anything immediately in the offing.
“They just needed to say something in response – you poke the North Koreans
in the eye and they poke you back.”
Additional reporting by Eleanor Ainge Roy and agencies.
#BUSINESS NEWSAUGUST 9, 2017 / 5:25 AM / 11 MINUTES AGO
Shares, dollar slip as U.S.-North Korea tensions escalate
5 MIN READ
People walk past an electronic board showing Japan's Nikkei average outside
a brokerage at a business district in Tokyo, Japan August 9, 2017.
TOKYO (Reuters) - Asian shares and U.S. stock futures slipped on Wednesday
and investors piled into havens such as U.S. Treasuries, gold and the yen
as tensions on the Korean peninsula escalated, with Pyongyang saying it is
considering plans to attack Guam.
A spokesman for the Korean People's Army said in a statement that it was
"carefully examining" plans for a missile attack on the U.S. Pacific
territory, which has a large American military base.
The comments came just hours after U.S. President Donald Trump told North
Korea that any threat to the United States would be met with "fire and
fury", rattling global financial markets.
Stock market losses slowly deepened throughout the day.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS
fell 0.7 percent, while Japan's Nikkei was 1.5 percent lower as the
stronger yen sapped investors' appetite.
South Korean shares .KS11, which have been among the strongest performers
in the world so far this year, fell 0.9 percent, while the won KRW=KFTC
sank around 0.7 percent to 1,136.4 to the dollar. Both slid to more than
Financial markets have tended to quickly shake off North Korea's periodic
saber-rattling in the past, dismissing it as bluster, but tensions have
lingered this year amid signs that it is making progress in its ballistic
missile program and on Trump's growing frustration with Pyongyang.
"The sell-off caused by geopolitical tensions on North Korea will likely be
short-lived as long as both Trump and Kim Jong Un keep making feints
against each other and neither takes military action," said Tomoaki Fujii,
head of the investment research division at Akatsuki Securities Inc in
"The market's dent only lasted for a week in April when tension rose
between them after North Korea launched a missile. Both counties know that
there is no turning back once they push the button," Fujii said.
But others believe North Korea has no intentions of backing down.
"Tensions will continue to mount and could eventually develop into a 'black
swan' event that the markets are not prudently considering," Steve Hanke,
professor of Applied Economics at the Johns Hopkins University, told the
Reuters Global Markets Forum on Wednesday.
A man looks at an electronic board showing Japan's Nikkei average outside a
brokerage at a business district in Tokyo, Japan August 9, 2017.
Though Hanke said he did not expect a sustained sell-off in riskier Asian
assets, he added "safe assets, as a class, are probably underpriced at
S&P 500 e-mini futures ESc1 were down 0.3 percent, pointing to weakness on
Wall Street later in the day, while the dollar skidded 0.4 percent against
its perceived safe-haven Japanese counterpart to 109.84 yen JPY=, plumbing
its lowest levels since mid-June.
The euro slid 0.6 percent to 128.92 yen EURJPY=, and fell 0.1 percent
against the dollar to $1.1735 EUR=.
A man walks past electronic boards showing Japan's Nikkei average (L), the
Dow Jones Industrial Average (2nd L) and foreign exchange rates outside a
brokerage at a business district in Tokyo, Japan August 9, 2017.
"It's a clear case of 'risk-off' sentiment lifting the yen, as investors
focus on the latest developments with North Korea," said Kumiko Ishikawa,
FX market analyst at Sony Financial Holdings in Tokyo.
Thin liquidity could also amplify market moves, she added, with markets in
Singapore closed for a public holiday and many market participants in Japan
taking time off this week ahead of a public holiday on Friday.
The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six major
rivals, was nearly flat on the day at 93.646 .DXY, remaining above last
week's 15-month low of 92.548.
The yield on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note US10YT=RR fell to
2.249 percent from its U.S. close of 2.282 percent on Tuesday.
U.S. stocks closed lower on Tuesday after Trump's vow to respond
aggressively to any North Korean threats triggered a late afternoon selling
Spot gold XAU= added 0.4 percent to $1,265.18 an ounce, pulling away from
the previous session's two-week lows. [GOL/]
Crude oil prices extended their slide as exports from key OPEC producers
rose, despite news of lower crude shipments from Saudi Arabia. [O/R]
U.S. crude CLc1 shed 15 cents to $49.02 a barrel, while Brent crude LCOc1
fell 21 cents a barrel at $51.93 a barrel.
Additional reporting by Marika Tsuji and Ayai Tomisawa in Tokyo, and Divya
Chowdhury in Mumbai; Editing by Eric Meijer and Kim Coghill
Peace Is Doable
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