Tension boils as North Korea says missile strikes near Guam are still a possibility

It’s on.
It’s on.
Image: KCNA via Reuters
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Tension between the US and North Korea heated overnight (Aug. 30) as the hermit state confirmed that the waters near Guam—a US territory in the Pacific with a strong American military presence—are still very much a target.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said the latest missile test, which yesterday sent a domestically made Hwasong-12 missile over Japan’s northern Hokkaido island, was “a meaningful prelude to containing Guam,” according to an article today in government mouthpiece Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). Earlier this month Pyongyang threatened to conduct an encircling strike around Guam involving four Hwasong-12 missiles landing in the surrounding sea.

In response to yesterday’s launch, US president Donald Trump said in an Aug. 29 statement, ”The world has received North Korea’s latest message loud and clear: this regime has signaled its contempt for its neighbors, for all members of the United Nations, and for minimum standards of acceptable international behavior.

“Threatening and destabilizing actions only increase the North Korean regime’s isolation in the region and among all nations of the world. All options are on the table.”

Japanese citizens woke up yesterday to a text message alert from the government warning them to “seek cover.” It’s rare for North Korea to send projectiles over the Japanese mainland. The nation had sent rockets over Japan in 1998 and 2009, but those, it said, were carrying satellites into space, whereas yesterday’s launch was clearly a missile.

Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe called the launch an “unprecedented, serious and a grave threat,” and later the UN Security Council held an emergency meeting. The group condemned the ballistic missile launch in a statement calling North Korea’s actions “outrageous.”