SEOUL — North Korea says it is "seriously reviewing" a plan to strike the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam with missiles — just hours after President Donald Trump told the regime that any threat to the United States would be met with "fire and fury."
A spokesman for the Korean People's Army, in a statement carried by the regime's state-run KCNA news agency on Wednesday (local time), said it was going over "military options to form attack positions" around the U.S. territory in order to "send a stern warning" to the United States.
In another statement citing a different military spokesman, North Korea also said it could carry out a pre-emptive operation if the United States showed signs of provocation, according to Reuters.
The announcement came amid sharply escalating tensions between the North, led by Kim Jong Un, and the United States.
It also came just two days after the 72nd anniversary of the world's first atomic bomb attack on Hiroshima, Japan. That horrific bombing killed 140,000 people, and was followed three days later by another that killed more than 70,000 people in Nagasaki.
"North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States," Trump warned Tuesday from his Bedminster Golf Club in New Jersey. "They will be met with fire, fury and, frankly, power the likes of which this world has never seen before."
That advance does not mean North Korea has a nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missile, according to a U.S. official briefed on the intelligence assessment. Pyongyang still has to establish that it can deliver a weapon accurately that survives reentry.
North Korea fired an intercontinental ballistic missile in late July in a test that the regime and independent experts said showed that some U.S. cities are now within its target range.
The Department of Defense detected the ballistic missile launch and later confirmed it to be an ICBM, U.S. officials said. It flew approximately 1,000 kilometers and landed in the Sea of Japan, within Japan's exclusive economic zone, according to Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis.
The United Nations Security Council unanimously leveled new sanctions on North Korea on Saturday that could gut the regime's $3 billion annual export revenue by a third. The move was widely seen as punishment for the North's nuclear and missile programs.
U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley called the resolution "the single largest economic sanctions package ever leveled against the North Korean regime" and "the most stringent set of sanctions on any country in a generation."
Trump has previously vowed to confront North Korea "very strongly" for testing missile launches, telling reporters during a trip last month to Warsaw, Poland, that "I have some pretty severe things that we’re thinking about," in terms of potential responses.