Detailed strike plan adds to edge

Top News | Associated Press 11 Aug 2017

North Korea announced a detailed plan to launch a salvo of ballistic missiles toward the US Pacific territory of Guam, a major military hub and home to US bombers.

Yesterday's announcement warned the North is finalizing a plan to fire four of its Hwasong-12 missiles over Japan and into waters around the tiny island, which hosts 7,000 American military personnel on two main bases, and has a population of 160,000.

Japan and South Korea vowed a strong reaction if the North were to go through with the plan.

The North said the plan - which involves missiles hitting waters 30 to 40 kilometers from Guam - could be sent to leader Kim Jong Un for approval within a week or so. It would be up to the dictator whether the move is actually carried out.

Such a launch would almost compel the United States to attempt an intercept, and possibly generate further escalation.

Guam lies about 3,400 kilometers from the Korean Peninsula, and it's extremely unlikely Kim's government would risk annihilation with a pre- emptive attack on US citizens.

It's also unclear how reliable North Korea's missiles would be against such a distant target, but no one was writing off the danger completely. No stranger to bluffing, Pyongyang frequently uses extremely bellicose rhetoric with warnings of military action to keep its adversaries on their heels.

Following reports that US intelligence suggests the North might be able to pair a nuclear warhead with a missile capable of reaching targets on the American mainland, President Donald Trump warned North Korea that "it faces retaliation with fire and fury unlike any the world has seen before."

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