August 9, 2017 / 12:31 PM / a year ago

ANALYST VIEWS-North Korea considers missile strike on Guam

Aug 9 (Reuters) - North Korea said on Wednesday it is considering plans for a missile strike on the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam, just hours after U.S. President Donald Trump told the North that any threat to the United States would be met with “fire and fury”.

The sharp increase in tensions rattled financial markets and prompted warnings from U.S. officials and analysts not to engage in rhetorical slanging matches with North Korea, which regularly threatens to destroy the United States.

North Korea said it was “carefully examining” a plan to strike Guam, which is home to about 163,000 people and a U.S. military installation that includes a submarine squadron, an air base and a Coast Guard group.

Following are analyst views that look at the war risks in East Asia after the rhetorical exchange.

Kunihiko Miyake, former Japanese diplomat and now research director at The Canon Institute for Global Studies: “I don’t think North Korea is going to attack. They are not going suicidal... They are not militarily provoking, they are diplomatically provoking. They want negotiations, to strike a peace pact with the United States from a position of strength.” Sun Zhe, co-director of the China Initiative of Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs: “I think the United States won’t take any land-based military action. It would bomb some military infrastructure, but it wouldn’t likely cross the 38th parallel.

“China still hasn’t prepared for the United States crossing the 38th parallel. What it (Beijing) discusses more is a decapitation, the destruction of military and missile facilities, and the deployment of ground troops, and merely the strengthening of the border for the issue of refugees and relevant precautions to prevent the two sides from going to war. It will also discuss with Russia. So, it’s still early and not at that irremediable stage.”

Zhang Liangui, a North Korea expert at China’s Central Party School which trains rising Chinese officials: “Nobody wants war. But North Korea’s pushing of its nuclear programme has touched the America’s red line and they won’t stand for it, so there really is a possibility of a clash ...The United States might well go behind the UN and take unilateral action on North Korea. This possibility is getting greater and greater, so there is cause for concern. The United States is a superpower. It does not need to resort to nuclear weapons to win a war. So I think the chances of them using nuclear weapons is small.” Moon Seong-mook, a retired South Korean brigadier general who took part in previous military talks with North Korea: “North Korea has no choice but to react (to Trump’s remarks) right now. They have to respond. From their point of view (the United States) is insulting their great leader Kim Jong Un, so they are trying to manage the situation with this kind of rhetoric. Neither country will be able to take action quickly. Something will likely be done before the Korean peninsula is laid to waste. Right now it’s a mental fight – a psychological tug-of-war.”

George A. Lopez, former member of the U.N. Panel of Experts created to monitor North Korea sanctions and currently Hesburgh Chair in Peace Studies at Notre Dame University: “Much like (former U.S. secretary of defense Donald) Rumsfeld’s ‘shock and awe’ in Iraq, this is a classic attempt to show resolve. I fear this: if you asked the president which particular weapons create such fire, etc, he would be hard pressed to name them...

Dr. Cha Du-hyeogn, Visiting Researcher at the Asian Institute for Policy Studies: “Trump probably used the aggressive expression ‘fire and fury’ to defend his own foreign policy as many have recently rebuked Trump’s foreign policy direction and some think that Trump’s position is similar to that of Obama’s ‘strategic patience’ on North Korea.”

Yang Uk, a senior research fellow at the Korea Defense and Security Forum: “If North Korea really decides to fire missiles at Guam, they probably will not design the missile to actually reach the territory of Guam, but just arrange missiles to blow up before they land on Guam, just to threaten the U.S. or to show off their missile capability. North Korea probably is afraid of what the U.S. would do if their missiles actually hit the U.S. territory, because the U.S. will not let that go.” (Created by Bill Tarrant; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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