North Korea threats: US to move missile defences to Guam


Should we be worried? The Korean crisis - in 90 seconds

The US is sending a missile shield to the Pacific island of Guam as North Korea threatens nuclear strikes.

The Pentagon said the shield would be ready within weeks, adding to warships that were sent to the area earlier.

The North had named Guam among a list of possible targets for attack that included Hawaii and the US mainland.

North Korea is not thought to have the technology to strike the US mainland with either a nuclear weapon or a ballistic missile, analysts say.


Despite all the bluster, experts do not believe that North Korea has the capacity to launch a nuclear-armed ballistic missile at the US. However, American bases in South Korea, Japan and perhaps even as far away as Guam could well be within range of Pyongyang's conventionally armed missiles.

The US response has been a mixture of reassurance for its allies and prudent defensive precautions, including the deployment of warships with anti-missile capabilities.

Other anti-missile defences in the region are also being bolstered, a step that carries an additional message to Beijing - that if Pyongyang remains on this course anti-missile systems will only proliferate, something that may eventually compromise the effectiveness of China's own nuclear deterrent.

But it is capable of targeting US military bases in the region with its mid-range missiles.

Pyongyang has also continued to refuse access to workers from the South into a joint industrial zone in the North.

The Kaesong complex is staffed mainly by North Koreans but funded and managed by South Korean firms.

Pyongyang blocked access for a second day on Thursday, and threatened to shut down the zone.

North Korea has issued an array of statements in recent weeks threatening nuclear strikes and attacks on specific targets in the US and South Korea.

It has announced a formal declaration of war on the South, and pledged to reopen a mothballed nuclear reactor in defiance of UN Security Council resolutions.

In its latest statement, attributed to a military spokesman, the North appeared to refer to ongoing military exercises between the US and South Korea in which the US has flown nuclear-capable bombers over the South.

US newspapers react

The New York Times says: "The Obama administration was prudent to bolster its forces in the region. Many experts assume Mr Kim won't attack the world's top military power or its allies, but Washington has an obligation to guarantee that if this assumption is wrong, it can defend the homeland."

From the Washington Post: "What the administration really needs, however, is a new strategy for answering the provocations. Diplomacy hasn't worked; neither has pressuring China to restrain the Kim regime. What has are financial sanctions targeted at the ruling elite."

The New Jersey Star-Ledger says: "While many buy into the old disarmament-for-food storyline, there's another camp concerned this episode might be different: that Kim, with little more than a year on the job, might actually believe his nation has become a nuclear power."

The statement said the "ever-escalating US hostile policy towards the DPRK [North Korea] and its reckless nuclear threat will be smashed".

It promised to use "cutting-edge smaller, lighter and diversified nuclear strike means of the DPRK" and said the "merciless operation of its revolutionary armed forces in this regard has been finally examined and ratified".

The US Department of Defense said on Wednesday it would deploy the ballistic Terminal High Altitude Area Defense System (Thaad) to Guam in the coming weeks.

The Thaad system includes a truck-mounted launcher and interceptor missiles.

The Pentagon said the deployment would "strengthen our regional defence posture against the North Korean regional ballistic missile threat".

The US floated plans to send a Thaad system to Guam in 2009, but never followed through.

US officials recently also announced that the USS John McCain, a destroyer capable of intercepting missiles, had been positioned off the Korean peninsula.

Timeline: Korean tensions

  • 12 Dec: North launches a rocket, claiming to have put a satellite into orbit
  • 12 Feb: North conducts underground nuclear test
  • 11 Mar: US-South Korea annual military drills begin
  • 30 Mar: North says it is entering a "state of war" with South
  • 2 Apr: North says it is restarting Yongbyon reactor

Analysts have expressed concern that it is unclear exactly what Pyongyang hopes to achieve with its latest round of ramped-up rhetoric.

The BBC's Damian Grammaticas in Seoul says the North could be seeking to pressure Washington to open fresh talks.

US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Washington was taking the threats seriously.

"As they have ratcheted up her bellicose, dangerous rhetoric, and some of the actions they've taken over the last few weeks present a real and clear danger," said Mr Hagel, in his first major speech since taking up his post.

The North has not taken direct military action against its neighbours since 2010, when it shelled a South Korean island, killing four people.

North Korea missile ranges map

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  • Comment number 709.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 708.

    Why would you call a missile no dong? probably explodes prematurely or named after their leader?

    Given the recent tests the North Koreans are probably more worried about their own missiles than anyone else is.

  • rate this

    Comment number 707.

    @581. thoiter

    Nonsense and twaddle...decide who it is you would like at the top of the ladder in today's world,because until we all change as a society and begin to work as a global community this is how it will stay.

    NK is behaving just like the child at its helm...if they decided to fire off a couple of rockets, would you then say the US and its allies should have done something sooner...

  • rate this

    Comment number 706.

    @701 well trained but all their military products are russian, their tank and MIG russian planes are from decades ago. I would wager if US and NK went to war as soon as the US dropped a few bombs there would be a lot of desertion in the NK ranks i can assure you.

  • rate this

    Comment number 705.

    The most worrying thing is that the man in charge of North Korea is a 20-something with no political/ military experience who inherited the job from his father. If he’s lacking the perspective, experience, knowledge or is fundamentally incapable of doing the job, is anyone in the North Korean administration likely to stop him?

  • rate this

    Comment number 704.

    The Chinese regime seem happy to oversee the growing prosperity of their people fueled by a seemingly insatiable demand from the west for its cheap products. If the masses are happy they will not revolt. China is not going to do anything to upset the nice little earner they've got, certainly not Kim Jong Un and his sycophants,

  • rate this

    Comment number 703.

    @666 Cordeliascrown - I hate to break it to you but China is the 3rd largest arms exporter in the world after the US and Russia. Also, the US haven't gone into NK with "guns blazing" for the past 50-odd years, even when NK didn't have nukes, why do you think they're going to start now? They are committed to defending South Korea and Japan that's all. You ignore a very vocal threat at your peril.

  • rate this

    Comment number 702.

    How many people on this board have been to NK ??? Nobody correct.

    So why is everybody jumping on the band wagon by trusting what the main steam news tells you.
    So what if they want no connection with the rest of the world, is it harming you or me ??

    Here is a nice quote to take away with you "if you don't come to democracy democracy will come to you"
    Have we all just forgot Iraq

  • rate this

    Comment number 701.

    Let's see how the West does against another nuclear power. We couldn't beat fella's that lived in caves and used weapons from the 80's. One wonder's how we'll fare against a massive, well trained military and a nuclear arsenal.

    Oh well, war is for the mug's fighting it. Not my problem.

  • rate this

    Comment number 700.

    Firstly my comment to Millicent Harper "A world without American power would be dangerous and unstable with regional wars more not less likely." this is as logical as cutting your right hand off if youre a righthanded ...NOT ¨!

    At the brink of potential destruction, people and ,yet some of us believe in the protagonists rationality


  • rate this

    Comment number 699.

    Always talking about how strong and mighty it is; their current behavior is the typical Pyongyang way of saving face and drawing people to negotiation table. However the motives for this round of threats may well be for Kim Jong Sung to show up his dad and grandad, so that people take him seriously. That or the military will use this as an excuse to rid themselves of their Kim rulers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 698.

    I think Kim-nice-but-dim needs a stern talking to about what it is like being an adult.

    He is obviously concerned that his voice is slightly deeper than it used to be, that he has downy hair growing on his face, and has strange coarse wirey hair growing around Mr Tinkle down below.

    Once he knows all these facts he will calm down. And then Kim-nice-but-dim can go back to beddy-byes.......:-)

  • rate this

    Comment number 697.

    This is a situation that needs to be handled very carefully. The trouble is now both NK and the US cant be seen to be backing down to save face, so what next? A new Korean war will do nothing to resolve the issues and both countries could do without the expense of a war. The US attempt to flex their muscle in the hope it will deter isnt working & NK almost seem like a country with nothing to lose!

  • rate this

    Comment number 696.

    Before we start blowing things up, we need to remember that the government of North Korea does not necessarily represent the views of the North Koreans. Even if the general public support their government, it's not really their fault, as they have been spoon fed a completely false picture of the rest of the world.

    We mustn't let the childish threats and tantrums of this dictatorship provoke us.

  • rate this

    Comment number 695.

    "The UN is a joke, we should protect our own freedoms."

    What chance have we when we can't protect our freedoms at home? US has become a police state (only Texas + a couple other states resisting). UK is become a surveillance nanny state.

    We're all under the thumb of globalists, whether the EU, or the IMF. Only difference is they're pointing financial ruin at us rather than nukes.

  • rate this

    Comment number 694.

    Oh's all going a bit Pete Tong!
    As long as mankinds ambition, power and land greed exists, so will these situations!
    On a plus note this is a country known for posturing, not actually following through with it's silliest threats, fingers crossed it stays that way.

  • Comment number 693.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 692.

    Don't be silly, #664 suchan104, I can see very well. NK will not be so stupid as to risk annihilation by the West so there's no need for knee-jerk, provocative, unnecessary reactions, is there!! NK have political reasons for these statements. If they really wanted to wage a merciless war effectively against a better armed enemy , they wouldn't warn them in advance now would they!?!?

  • rate this

    Comment number 691.

    In Gold I Trust

    That was part of the reason things haven't moved on in sixty years - no real action has been taken in that time and N. Korea has been left almost in a time warp to develop in some mad little vacuum...

    I say we deal with the 'issue' not whilst we can, if the N. Korean regime gain long range nuclear capability nothing can be done to stop them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 690.


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