TOKYO – [In light of specific North Korean threats against Guam the United States announced April 4 it is deploying an advanced missile defense system to Guam.]
Angered at joint US-South Korean military exercises and what the regime describes as “intolerable”” threats North Korea has once again threatened to launch nuclear missiles against US military bases in Japan and Guam as well as targeting the mainland US.
The latest diatribe from the north got unusual traction locally by specifically naming Guam’s Andersen Air Force Base.
Meanwhile North Korea expressed further outrage at the U.S. decision to send B-2 bombers over South Korea a decision defended by U.S. Secretary of Defense Charles “”Chuck”” Hagel as required by the current threats.
“”We don’t have any choice in defending this country but to anticipate worst case scenarios “” Hagel said. “”These are decision-making processes that evolve based on threats — you only need to be wrong once.””
Other defense analysts however assess the threats as more rhetoric than a genuine danger to other nations and Pacific neighbors.
“”North Korea doesn’t have the capability to carry out this latest threat to attack US bases in Hawaii the U.S. mainland or Guam using long range missiles “” said James Hardy Asia-Pacific editor of IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly.
“”From what we know of its existing inventory North Korea has short and medium-range missiles that could complicate a situation on the Korean Peninsula and perhaps reach Japan but we have not seen any evidence that it has long-range missiles that could strike the continental U.S. Guam or Hawaii “” he said. “”The Unha-3 rocket that was fired in December uses ballistic missile technology but is not a ballistic missile.””
That does leave the KN-08 missile however which was paraded through the streets of Pyongyang in April last year.
“”The U.S.’ decision to ramp up its ballistic missile defense on the west coast and Alaska in mid-March was interesting because U.S. officials used the KN-08 as a reason for the move but then refused to divulge the intelligence they have on it “” Hardy observed.
“”There are two possible trains of thought on this. Either the U.S. knows something about this missile that means they are taking it seriously or they are using its existence as an excuse to ramp up their Asia-Pacific facing [ballistic missile defense].””
North Korea’s announcement was in the name of the Supreme Command which has attracted attention in South Korea because it is an emergency division of the government that is only operational during time of war.
In the announcement North Korea said it would “”show off our army and people’s stern reaction to safeguard our sovereignty and the highest dignity through military actions.””
The comments come a day after Kim Jong-un was again pictured visiting military units watching exercises on the east coast involving troops storming ashore from hovercraft and artillery shelling targets.
The U.S. and South Korea recently conducted military exercises involving a nuclear submarine and B52 bombers flying out of Guam.
“”The U.S. nuclear war racket has gone beyond the danger line and entered the phase of an actual war defying the repeated warnings from the army and people of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea “” the statement said.
But Hardy is confident that North Korea will stop short of triggering a full-scale conflict on the peninsula.
“”Despite the rhetoric North Korea is not in a position to wage a war with the U.S. or South Korea but we would expect to see more asymmetric ‘provocations’ or activities such as last week’s cyber attack on South Korean media and banks or even the shelling of some of South Korea’s Yellow Sea islands “” he said.
“”Another area that we’ve not seen for a while is a naval skirmish – that used to be quite a regular occurrence but deteriorating North Korean naval capabilities may have forced them to scale this type of activity down “” he said.