The US territory of Guam is the next target; says Pyongyang

Pyongyang
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News analysis |

The North Korean state media, KCNA has said that Tuesday’s missile launch over Japan was a prelude to military operations aimed at the US territory of Guam. The launch of the  “ultra-modern rocket system,” was presided over by North Korea’s Kim Jong Un; he was satisfied with the performance.

Kim may be faced with the use them or lose them dilemma in the event of an imminent counterforce threat from the US. For now, Kim is winning the war of deterrence

After putting off his plans to attack Guam earlier this month, Kim has once again started to eye the US territory where 160,000 US personnel are based. The launch was “the first step of the military operation of the (North Korean military) in the Pacific and a meaningful prelude to containing Guam,” state media said. The intermediate-range missile, identified by the North Koreans as the Hwasong-12, flew over Japan, escalating the already-simmering nuclear brinkmanship on the peninsula.

Read more: Missile flies over Japan; the Korean Peninsula at a tipping point

South Korea carried-out a bombing drill on the Northern border with North Korea after that country fired a missile over Northern Japan on Tuesday. The bombing was ordered by South Korean president Moon Jae-in and used four F15K fighter jets to drop a flurry of MK84 multi-purpose bombs in a bid to demonstrate ‘overwhelming force’.

The fact that DPRK has not ruled out launching preemptive strikes means that even conventional operations can instigate a nuclear first strike

Kim praised the crew’s “smart and accurate movement” and said the drill “would offer them an opportunity for gaining a good experience in their rocket operation for an actual war,” according to KCNA. Pyongyang reacted to US-ROK drills.

In a statement, the 15-member UN  Security Council said it was of “vital importance” that North Korea take immediate, concrete actions to reduce tensions and called on all states to implement U.N. sanctions on Pyongyang.

President Trump vowed to fully side with his ally in Japan. In a detailed statement on Tuesday, Trump said that all options are on the table. He said: “The world has received North Korea’s latest message loud and clear: this regime has signaled its contempt for its neighbors, for all members of the United Nations, and for minimum standards of acceptable international behavior.” He said that provocative and inimical actions will further increase the regime’s isolation.

Read more: North Korea undeterred despite Tillerson’s optimism for talks

A credible threat 

The 15-member UN  Security Council said it was of “vital importance” that North Korea take immediate, concrete actions to reduce tensions and called on all states to implement U.N. sanctions on Pyongyang

The missile launch has shown clearly that Kim’s threat to target Guam was not a bluff; the IRBM went in the direction of Guam which is a follow up on the threats dished out earlier this month. The missile launch is a clear-cut signal from Kim to the US. It also shows that Kim is willing to take risks and is unfazed. However, the chances of Kim drawing first blood are increasing.

The fact that DPRK has not ruled out launching preemptive strikes means that even conventional operations can instigate a nuclear first strike. Kim may be faced with the use them or lose them dilemma in the event of an imminent counterforce threat from the US. For now, Kim is winning the war of deterrence.

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