President Donald Trump has indicated that the United States was contemplating military options against North Korea and went to the extent of saying that he could unleash “fire and fury” against it in case he felt that it could endanger America. North Korea reacted promptly and threatened to strike a specific location – the island of Guam in western Pacific which has a USAF base.

Fox News reports that North Korea plans to fire a mid-range ballistic missile at the U.S. island territory of Guam on September 9, and the target would be the Anderson Air Force base where nuclear bombers are stationed.

Obviously, battle lines are drawn and tension is increasing in Japan and South Korea because both are allies of America and may have to bear the brunt of any nuclear attack since they are located in the immediate vicinity.

Options for Japan and South Korea

According to New York Times, the Japanese government is aware of the threat from North Korea because it had conducted several tests of its missiles and some had ended up in the sea waters close to Japan. It has to defend itself in case of a nuclear attack and one of the options it could consider is to launch pre-emptive strikes. The purpose would be to destroy North Korean missiles on the ground before they are fired and, thus, nullify the threats.

Incidentally, Japan has already committed to procuring advanced fighter planes and is probably looking at an upgraded land-based missile defense system to shoot down incoming missiles from North Korea. However, the country’s post-WWII policy does not support any war but a pre-emptive strike would be an act of self-defense.

As to South Korea, its new president Moon Jae-in had initially talked of neutralizing relations with the North but there was no positive response from the other side.

Therefore, he has reversed his decision to suspend the deployment of THAAD, the advanced American missile defense system. It now appears that he will side with the United States to ward off threats from North Korea.

Where does North Korea stand?

North Korea had, at one time, threatened to strike Alaska or Hawaii and now plans to target Guam.

However, there are still doubts over whether it has acquired the necessary expertise to build an ICBM that can carry out a nuclear attack on a pre-designated target. Of course, its latest ICBM test of July 28 was a matter of concern because it showed that its ICBM could reach the United States.

Sky News, quoting reliable media sources, said that North Korea has successfully made a miniaturized nuclear warhead that can be installed in one of its ICBMs. An analyst who specializes in North Korean affairs believes that Pyongyang has made sufficient progress in its agenda of producing a nuclear weapon that can reach the US mainland. Hence, its claims cannot be taken lightly.