Friday 19 January 2018

Kim Jong-un 'briefed on plan to attack Guam'

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (C) celebrating the successful test-fire of the intercontinental ballistic missile Hwasong-14 at an undisclosed location. Photo: STR/AFP/Getty Images
North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (C) celebrating the successful test-fire of the intercontinental ballistic missile Hwasong-14 at an undisclosed location. Photo: STR/AFP/Getty Images

Anna Fifield

North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un has been briefed on a plan to fire missiles towards the US territory of Guam, home to US air and naval bases, Pyongyang's state media said early this morning.

Mr Kim "examined the plan for a long time" and "discussed it" with commanding officers yesterday during his inspection of the command of the Strategic Force in charge of the North's missile units, according to the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

The state-run news agency said Mr Kim would watch the actions of the United States for a while longer before making a decision.

"The United States, which was the first to bring numerous strategic nuclear equipment near us, should first make the right decision and show through actions if they wish to ease tensions on the Korean peninsula and prevent a dangerous military clash," Mr Kim was cited as saying.

If North Korea goes ahead with its threat to fire ballistic missiles toward the Guam, the order will come from Kim Jong-un himself.

The officials in charge of North Korea's missile programme could complete their preparations by next week and would then wait for the 33-year-old leader to decide what to do next.

North Korea has already demonstrated it has made great advances in its missile programme and can theoretically now hit the US mainland. This is a question of strategy.

"The North Koreans have been very clear that they need his authorisation. This is a moment for Kim Jong-un," said Michael Madden, who runs the North Korean Leadership Watch website and closely studies Kim

"He may take it as an opportunity to prove himself, or as an opportunity to let cooler heads prevail."

North Korea likes to mark important dates, and there are two of note.

Today, North Korea celebrates Liberation Day, marking the end of colonial rule by Japan, over which any Guam-bound missile would fly.

Then, next Monday, South Korea and the US start annual military exercises that always antagonise North Korea.

Irish Independent

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