North Korea took things up yet another notch Thursday by issuing detailed plans for a strike near Guam—and some insults directed at President Trump. Pyongyang's official Korean Central News Agency said a plan to fire four Hwasong-12 intermediate-range ballistic missiles into waters 25 miles off Guam will be presented to Kim Jong Un for his approval within days, the Guardian reports. General Kim Rak Gyom, the head of North Korea's strategic forces, was quoted as saying Trump is "bereft of reason" and that "absolute force" is the only thing that will work on him. In other developments:
- Load of nonsense. The North Korean statement described Trump's "fire and fury" threat as a "load of nonsense" and warned that Pyongyang will be closely watching "speech and behavior" from the US, CNN reports. "This is extremely getting on the nerves of the infuriated Hwasong artillerymen" of the Korean People's Army, the statement said.
- Stern and strong. South Korea's military said any such action would meet a "stern and strong" response from Seoul as well as Washington, the AP reports. Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said the launch would be considered an "existential threat" to Japan and the country has the legal right to shoot the missiles down before they get near Guam.
- Shaken markets. Asian stocks slumped after Thursday's North Korea announcement, partly because the country provided details of plans to fire missiles across some of the world's busiest shipping lanes, Reuters reports. Missiles "will cross the sky above Shimane, Hiroshima, and Koichi Prefectures of Japan," KCNA said. "They will fly 3,356.7km (2,085.8 miles) for 1,065 seconds and hit the waters 30 to 40km away from Guam."
- Mixed signals. The harsh rhetoric from Trump combined with calming words from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and other administration members has led some critics to accuse the administration of sending mixed signals, possibly revealing a deep divide on North Korea policy, the New York Times reports. "Of all the countries and all the issues you deal with, North Korea is not the one to be kludging together statements by the president and Cabinet secretaries because the risk of miscalculation is so high," warned Eurasia Group's Evan Medeiros, a former Obama adviser.
- A position of fear. According to the BBC, many people in Guam feel that the latest threat is rhetorical and Pyongyang will not carry out actions likely to cause the end of the regime. "They're now telegraphing their punch, which means they don't want to have any misunderstandings. I think that's a position of fear," said Guam Gov. Eddie Calvo.
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