North Korea offered a glimpse into its plans to fire missiles near Guam in photos released by its state media on Tuesday, as leader Kim Jong Un was briefed on the plans drawn up by the army amid heightened tensions with the United States.
Kim was seen holding a baton and pointing at a map reading “Strategic Force’s Firing Strike Plan”, which showed a flight path for the missiles appearing to start from North Korea’s east coast, then flying over Japan and ending near Guam, as Pyongyang announced last week.
The launch location seen in the map appeared to be in the vicinity of Sinpo, the east coastal city that hosts North Korea’s submarine base, said Kim Dong-yub, a military expert at Kyungnam University’s Institute of Far Eastern Studies in Seoul.
Kim said the location near Sinpo fits with what North Korea outlined last week – that four intermediate-range missiles will cross the sky above Shimane, Hiroshima and Koichi Prefectures of Japan, fly 3,356.7 km (2,085.8 miles) for 1,065 seconds and hit the waters 30 to 40 km (18 to 25 miles) from Guam.
“Every North Korean must have seen this photo on TV and newspapers. North Korea is showing its confidence, telling the United States: if they want to stop it they can try,” he said. “It also signals that the North has been studying this for a long time and getting ready to act if it decided to.”
Tension on the Korean peninsula has risen over North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, with North Korea and the United States exchanging a flurry of strong rhetoric, each threatening military action, in recent days.
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis warned on Monday that the U.S. military would be prepared to intercept a missile fired by North Korea if it was headed to Guam, while the North’s leader Kim Jong Un alerted his army that it should always be fire-ready.