August 11, 2017 11:47
U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday reacted with his familiar scattergun approach to North Korea's threat to blast the American territory of Guam with "enveloping fire."
Trump told reporters that perhaps his earlier, widely criticized threat of "fire and fury like the world has never seen" was still too mild.
"Maybe it wasn't tough enough," Trump said at his golf course in New Jersey, where he has been holding forth for several days. "They've been doing this to our country for a long time, for many years, and it's about time that somebody stuck up for the people of this country and for the people of other countries."
He said North Korean leader Kim Jong-un should be "very nervous" if he is thinking about launching an attack on the U.S. or its allies. "Because things will happen to them like they never thought possible, OK?"
North Korea on Thursday unveiled detailed plans to bombard waters around Guam with mid-to-long-range ballistic missiles, complete with the trajectory over Japan's Shimane, Hiroshima and Kochi prefectures and duration of the missiles' flight at 1,065 seconds.
The Hwasong-12 missiles are to land some 30 km to 40 km off the shore of Guam. Asked if the U.S. is considering a preemptive strike, Trump replied, "We don't talk about that. I never do."
There have been no signs that North Korea is going to make good on the threat, but if that happens it could boost hawkish voices in the chaotic U.S. administration who favor a preemptive strike.
A direct attack of Guam would probably be seen as an act of war. Some boffins believe that is why North Korea deliberately announced that the missiles are supposed to fall into the sea instead of directly targeting the U.S. Air Force and Naval bases.
But one diplomatic source warned, "The North may have to make good on its threat just to save face." If North Korea fires the missiles, the U.S. and Japan could attempt to intercept them. The Hwasong-12s are within range of Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense batteries stationed on Guam. Yang Wook, a researcher at the Korea Defense and Security Forum, said, "The THAAD should have no problems shooting down four missiles."
The U.S. could also station Aegis destroyers near Guam and attempt to intercept the North Korean missiles by using SM-3 missiles, which have a maximum range of 700 km and can reach an altitude of 500 km.
Tokyo could also try to attempt to intercept them from the East Sea with its Aegis destroyers. But if North Korea fires the missiles from its inland bases, this could be difficult due to the higher trajectory.
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