North Korea has been issuing a blistering series of similar threats in recent weeks citing as targets the American military installations in the Pacific islands of Hawaii and Guam as well as the United States mainland. In its latest threat on Thursday it did not name targets but said it was authorized to take powerful practical military counteractions against the threats from B 2 bombers from the United States B 52 bombers from Guam and F 22 Stealth jet fighters from Japan that have recently run missions over the Korean Peninsula during joint military exercises with South Korea.
The moment of explosion is approaching fast the general staff of the North Korean People s Army said in a statement carried by the North s official Korean Central News Agency. The U.S. had better ponder over the prevailing grave situation.
Most analysts do not believe that North Korea has a missile powerful enough to deliver a nuclear warhead to the United States mainland or that it is reckless enough to strike the American military in the Pacific. Still with the North s bellicose postures showing no signs of letting up the United States announced Wednesday that it was speeding the deployment of an advanced missile defense system to Guam in the next few weeks two years ahead of schedule in what the Pentagon said was a precautionary move to protect American naval and air forces from the threat of a North Korean missile attack.
Testifying before a parliamentary hearing Defense Minister Kim Kwan jin of South Korea said the missile North Korea has moved to the east coast possibly for demonstration or for training appeared not to be a KN 08 which analysts say is the closest thing North Korea has to an intercontinental ballistic missile though its exact range is not known. The new missile was unveiled during a military parade in the North Korean capital Pyongyang last April.
South Korean media quoted unnamed military sources as saying that the missile was a Musudan. Deployed around 2007 Musudan is a ballistic missile with a range of more than 1 900 miles according to the South Korean Defense Ministry. Guam is nearly 2 200 miles from North Korea.
Col. Wee Yong sub of the army deputy spokesman of the Defense Ministry would only say that the South Korean and American military have been closely monitoring the movements of all North Korean missiles including Musudan.
Chances are not high that they will lead to a full scale war said Mr. Kim the defense minister referring to the North Korean threats. But given the nature of the North Korean regime it s possible that they will launch a localized provocation.
For a second straight day North Korea blocked South Koreans from crossing the border to enter a jointly operated industrial park threatening the future of the last remaining symbol of inter Korean cooperation. It also warned that it would pull out more than 53 000 North Korean workers from the joint factory park located in the North Korean city of Kaesong if taunts from the South Korean news media continued.
After the North s threat to close the industrial complex last week some South Korean media reports have said that the North Korean leader Kim Jong un would be all talk but no action when it came to the park because he did not want to risk one of his most precious sources of hard currency.
After the United Nations Security Council imposed further sanctions against the North for its launching of a three stage rocket in December and its third nuclear test in February North Korea has appeared to harden its stance considerably. It said it would never negotiate away its nuclear weapons arsenal but would expand it. On Tuesday it declared it would restart a nuclear reactor that gave it a small stockpile of plutonium and would readjust its uranium enrichment plant for weapons efforts.
David E. Sanger Mark Landler and Thom Shanker contributed reporting from Washington.