President Donald Trump has pronounced American armed forces to be “Locked And Loaded” should North Korea launch an attack. The statement, made on Twitter, came after the president offered to visit upon Pyongyang “fire and fury” if it persisted in threatening the United States and her allies. North Korea has responded by suggesting that it plans to launch four missiles to land in the waters near Guam, an American possession that hosts important military bases.

President Trump threatens

Trump took to Twitter and tweeted, “Military solutions are now fully in place, locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely.

Hopefully, Kim Jong Un will find another path!” The statement suggests that the American military already has contingency plans drawn up and forces in place to carry them out should the occasion arise. The tweet is a signal to Pyongyang that it needs to stand down and start the process of giving up its nuclear arms lest it persists on a path on which Secretary of Defense James Mattis promised would destroy North Korea.

What happens if North Korea launches against Guam?

The North Koreans have suggested that they may launch a salvo of four ballistic missiles to the waters off Guam, as a kind of shot across the bow in an attempt to cow the American government and people. The Trump administration has a number of options regarding such an action.

As North Korean ballistic missiles are liquid fueled, they take some time to prepare for launch, unlike solid fueled ICBMs deployed by the United States and Russia that can be launched on command. If North Korea is seen to be preparing for a launch against Guam, the United States has the option of launching a strike to take them out on the ground.

Such an attack on North Korean soil holds the peril of a retaliatory tit for tat that could get out of control and start a full-scale war in Korea.

The United States also has the option of shooting down the missiles with THAAD batteries. The THAAD has worked well in tests but has never been used in a combat situation. If the missiles are taken down, the United States will have achieved a crushing propaganda victory against North Korea.

However, if even one missile gets through, Pyongyang will have the advantage.

Regardless of what happens in the next few days and how the United States responds, the crisis in the Northwest Pacific is starting to deepen. The Trump administration, for all of its tough talk, prefers a diplomatic solution. However, time is running out.