In a fresh statement, North Korea said its unpredictable leader will make the final decision on whether to attack
North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un will decide in “mid-August” whether to fire four missile rockets at US targets in Guam.
A fresh statement from the secretive regime emerged on Wednesday night.
“The Hwasong-12 rockets to be launched by the KPA (Korean People’s Army) will cross the sky above Shimane, Hiroshima and Koichi Prefectures of Japan,” said General Kim Rak Gyom.
“They will fly 3,356.7 km for 1,065 seconds and hit the waters 30 to 40 km away from Guam.”
The North added that President Donald Trump’s “fire and fury” comments earlier this week are a “load of nonsense”, saying only “absolute force can work on him”.
It comes as the war of words between the US and North Korea escalated dramatically in the past 48 hours.
Trump said America’s nuclear arsenal is “far stronger and more powerful than ever before” as fears grow of military conflict.
President Trump tweeted: “My first order as President was to renovate and modernize our nuclear arsenal.
“It is now far stronger and more powerful than ever before….
“…Hopefully we will never have to use this power, but there will never be a time that we are not the most powerful nation in the world!”
The US military earlier released pictures of supersonic B-1B bombers flying from Guam after North Korea threatened to strike an American airbase on the Pacific island.
Two US Air Force B-1B jets took part in 10-hour mission over the Korean peninsula just hours before Kim Jong-un revealed plans to strike the remote island.
Kim Jong-un’s intentions were revealed shortly after Trump announced any threat to America would be met with “fire and fury”.
US Democrats slammed Trump for his “bombastic” and “unhinged” comments, while White House senior counselor Kellyanne Conway described them as “strong and obvious”.
Pyongyang said it was “carefully examining” a plan to strike Guam, which is home to about 163,000 people, a submarine squadron, an airbase and a Coast Guard group.
A Korean People’s Army spokesman said in a statement carried by state-run KCNA news agency the plan would be put into practice at any moment once leader Kim Jong-un makes a decision.
Earlier this morning, the US Air Force released a statement describing how two B-1B bombers flew a practice mission over the Korean Peninsula yesterday.
After taking off from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, the B-1s assigned to the 37th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, flew to Japanese airspace, where they were joined by Japanese F-2 fighter jets.
The B-1s then flew over the Korean Peninsula where they were joined by Republic of Korea Air Force KF-16 fighter jets.
They then performed a pass over the Pilsung Range before leaving South Korean airspace and returning to Guam.
The Air Force said: “Throughout the approximately 10-hour mission, the aircrews practiced intercept and formation training, enabling them to enhance their combined capabilities and tactical skills, while also strengthening the long standing military-to-military relationships in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.”
Guam Governor Eddie Calvo dismissed North Korea’s threat and said the island was prepared for “any eventuality” with strategically placed defences.
He said he had been in touch with the White House and there was no change in the threat level.
“Guam is American soil… We are not just a military installation,” Calvo said in an online video message.
North Korea also accused the United States of devising a “preventive war” and said in another statement that any plans to execute this would be met with an “all-out war wiping out all the strongholds of enemies, including the US mainland”.
Washington has warned it is ready to use force if needed to stop North Korea’s ballistic missile and nuclear programmes but that it prefers global diplomatic action, including sanctions.
The UN Security Council unanimously imposed new sanctions on North Korea on Saturday.
But Trump issued his strongest warning yet for North Korea in comments to reporters in New Jersey on Tuesday.
“North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen,” he said.
North Korea has made no secret of its plans to develop a nuclear-tipped missile able to strike the United States and has ignored calls to halt its weapons programmes.
Pyongyang says its intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) are a legitimate means of defence against perceived US hostility, including joint military drills with South Korea.
The United States has remained technically at war with North Korea since the 1950-53 Korean conflict ended without a peace treaty.
Seoul is home to roughly 10 million people and within range of massed North Korean rockets and artillery, which would be impossible to destroy in a first US strike.
Tens of thousands of US troops remain stationed in South Korea and in nearby Japan, the only country to have been attacked with nuclear weapons.
Wednesday marked the 72nd anniversary of the atomic bombing of the city of Nagasaki by the United States.
“Tension is mounting when it comes to the international situation surrounding nuclear weapons,” Nagasaki mayor Tomihisa Taue told a ceremony marking the attack.
“Strong fears are spreading that nuclear weapons may be used in the not-so-distant future,” he said.
A senior official at South Korea’s presidential Blue House rejected talk of a crisis on the Korean peninsula, saying Seoul saw a high possibility of resolving the issue peacefully.
North Korea needed to realise that its repeated provocations are making the country more isolated and it should respond to the South’s proposal for dialogue, the official said.
In Dandong, a Chinese trading hub across the border from North Korea, residents said they were unperturbed by the escalating rhetoric.
“North Korea always talks about war, war, war, but it never happens,” said a restaurant owner who asked to be identified only by her surname, Yang.
“We now live in peaceful times. But if war does break out it will be us ordinary people that suffer,” she said.
Tensions in the region have risen since North Korea carried out two nuclear bomb tests last year and two ICBM tests in July.
Madeleine Z. Bordallo, the US Congresswoman for Guam, said she was confident forces could protect it from the “deeply troubling” North Korean nuclear threat.
She called on Trump to show “steady leadership” and work with the international community to lower tensions.
Republican US Senator John McCain said Trump should tread cautiously when issuing threats to North Korea unless he is prepared to act.
“I take exception to the president’s comments because you’ve got to be sure you can do what you say you’re going to do,” he said in a radio interview.
Former US diplomat Douglas Paal, now with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace think tank in Washington, said Trump should not get into a war of words with Pyongyang.
“It strikes me as an amateurish reflection of a belief that we should give as we get rhetorically,” said Paal, who served as a White House official under previous Republican administrations.
“That might be satisfying at one level, but it takes us down into the mud that we should let Pyongyang enjoy alone.”