SEOUL, South Korea (KDKA/AP) – In an exchange of threats, President Donald Trump has warned Pyongyang of “fire and fury like the world has never seen” and the North’s military has claimed it was examining plans for attacking the U.S. territory of Guam.
Elected officials in Guam are reassuring constituents that the U.S. territory is safe following North Korea’s claim that it is examining its plan for “making an enveloping fire” around the strategically important Pacific island.
Gov. Eddie Baza Calvo said Wednesday there is no threat to Guam or to the Mariana Islands to the north. He adds that he will continue discussions with Joint Region Marianas Commander Rear Admiral Shoshana Chatfield to discuss military and first-responder readiness, to ensure that Guam is “prepared for any eventuality.”
Guam Congresswoman Madeleine Z. Bordallo issued a statement saying Pentagon officials have assured her that the territory is protected. She urged Trump to work with the international community to deescalate tensions.
North Korea threatens Guam regularly, but also knows a preemptive attack on U.S. citizens would assure annihilation of its own revered leadership. Pyongyang’s mid-range missiles also haven’t been tested enough to be certain of their reliability in a real attack on a distant target.
A nuclear expert who has repeatedly visited North Korea’s nuclear facilities says he doubts the country is yet capable of attacking Guam with medium- to long-range missiles.
Retired Army Major and CBS News Military Analyst Mike Lyons says it would be difficult for North Korea to attack Guam at this time.
“[North Korea’s] technology is not that great. It would be more or less like a terror weapon similar to what we saw in Desert Storm when the Iraqis fired their Scuds into Israel, not very accurate and hope they can hit something. It would be a very big problem to try to hit Guam,” said Maj. Lyons
Siegfried Hecker, a professor at Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Cooperation, said Tuesday night in the U.S. that although the North tested two intercontinental ballistic missiles last month, developing a nuclear warhead for such a missile is “extremely challenging and still beyond North Korea’s reach.”
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson wrapped up a visit to Malaysia early Wednesday, ending a Southeast Asia tour aimed at signaling President Trump’s commitment to the region.
Deputy Prime Minister Zahid Hamidi said in a statement their talks centered on North Korea, the South China Sea dispute and terrorism in the region. Tillerson then met with U.S. embassy staff before heading to Washington. He had met Prime Minister Najib Razak after arriving late Tuesday.
Malaysia’s relations with the U.S. had warmed after Najib took office in 2009 but he has increasingly leaned toward China, Malaysia’s biggest trading partner.
Asian stock markets slid Wednesday after President Trump and North Korea traded threats and Wall Street declined overnight.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)