North Korea renewed threats against the U.S. territory of Guam as South Korea and the United States prepare for a joint naval exercise next week.
“We have already warned several times that we will take counteractions for self-defense, including a salvo of missiles into waters near the US territory of Guam,” Pyongyang said in a state-run KCNA report. It quoted Kim Kwang Hak, researcher at the North Korean Institute for American Studies, which is overseen by the North Korean Foreign Ministry.
“The US military action hardens our determination that the US should be tamed with fire,” the statement added.
The reclusive, communist country has made such threats in the past. But in August, President Donald Trump said that he would bring “fire and fury” and “totally destroy” the country if North Korea takes direct action.
The U.S.-South Korea drill involves the aircraft carrier, the USS Ronald Reagan, slated to begin Monday in the waters east and west of South Korea. The 10-day exercise will “promote communications, interoperability, and partnership in the 7th Fleet area of operations,” reads a statement from the Navy’s 7th Fleet.
The submarine Michigan arrived in Busan, South Korea, on Friday, and warplanes will also join the exercise, The New York Times reported.
Trump’s White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, a former general, said Thursday that Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions, for now, are “manageable.”
“Right now we think the threat is manageable,” Kelly told reporters, via a live feed. “Let’s hope that diplomacy works.”
But he stipulated there is “great concern” for the citizens of Guam, which features a significant number of U.S. military installations.
It comes after the U.S. military flew two strategic bombers over the Korean Peninsula in a show of force late on Tuesday, Reuters reported.
North Korea has launched two missiles over Japan and conducted its sixth nuclear test in recent weeks as it advances quickly toward its goal of developing a nuclear-tipped missile capable of hitting the U.S. mainland.
The two U.S. Air Force B-1B bombers were joined by two F-15K fighters from the South Korean military after leaving their base in Guam, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement on Wednesday.
After entering South Korean airspace, the two bombers carried out air-to-ground missile drills in waters off the east coast of South Korea, then flew over the South to waters between it and China to repeat the drill, the release said.
The U.S. military said in a separate statement it conducted drills with Japanese fighters after the exercise with South Korea, making it the first time U.S. bombers have conducted training with fighters from both Japan and South Korea at night.
The U.S. bombers had taken off from the Andersen Air Force Base in Guam. In August, Pyongyang threatened to fire intermediate-range missiles toward the vicinity of Guam, a U.S. Pacific territory that is frequently subjected to sabre-rattling from the North.
Reuters contributed to this report.