Skip to main content

North Korea warns that U.S. bases in Guam, Japan are within range

By Jethro Mullen, CNN
March 22, 2013 -- Updated 0041 GMT (0841 HKT)
A North Korean soldier uses binoculars on Thursday, February 6, to look at South Korea from the border village of Panmunjom, which has separated the two Koreas since the Korean War. A new <a href='http://www.cnn.com/2014/02/17/world/asia/north-korea-un-report/index.html'>United Nations report</a> describes a brutal North Korean state "that does not have any parallel in the contemporary world." A North Korean soldier uses binoculars on Thursday, February 6, to look at South Korea from the border village of Panmunjom, which has separated the two Koreas since the Korean War. A new United Nations report describes a brutal North Korean state "that does not have any parallel in the contemporary world."
HIDE CAPTION
Kim Jong Un and North Korea's military
Kim Jong Un and North Korea's military
Kim Jong Un and North Korea's military
Kim Jong Un and North Korea's military
Kim Jong Un and North Korea's military
Kim Jong Un and North Korea's military
Kim Jong Un and North Korea's military
Kim Jong Un and North Korea's military
Kim Jong Un and North Korea's military
Kim Jong Un and North Korea's military
Kim Jong Un and North Korea's military
Kim Jong Un and North Korea's military
Kim Jong Un and North Korea's military
Kim Jong Un and North Korea's military
Kim Jong Un and North Korea's military
Kim Jong Un and North Korea's military
Kim Jong Un and North Korea's military
Kim Jong Un and North Korea's military
Kim Jong Un and North Korea's military
Kim Jong Un and North Korea's military
Kim Jong Un and North Korea's military
Kim Jong Un and North Korea's military
Kim Jong Un and North Korea's military
Kim Jong Un and North Korea's military
Kim Jong Un and North Korea's military
Kim Jong Un and North Korea's military
Kim Jong Un and North Korea's military
Kim Jong Un and North Korea's military
Kim Jong Un and North Korea's military
Kim Jong Un and North Korea's military
Kim Jong Un and North Korea's military
Kim Jong Un and North Korea's military
Kim Jong Un and North Korea's military
Kim Jong Un and North Korea's military
Kim Jong Un and North Korea's military
Kim Jong Un and North Korea's military
Kim Jong Un and North Korea's military
Kim Jong Un and North Korea's military
Kim Jong Un and North Korea's military
Kim Jong Un and North Korea's military
Kim Jong Un and North Korea's military
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35
36
37
38
39
40
41
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • North Korea is verbally "firing back" at recent moves by the U.S., an analyst says
  • Pyongyang has expressed anger that the U.S. is flying B-52s over South Korea
  • The flights are part of annual military exercises
  • Tensions on the Korean Peninsula have flared since the North's latest nuclear test

Read a version of this story in Arabic.

(CNN) -- The North Korean military issued a fresh burst of ominous rhetoric Thursday, warning that U.S. bases in Guam and Japan are within its "striking range."

The statement from the Supreme Command of the Korean People's Army, carried by the North's state-run news agency, follows the announcement by the United States this week that its B-52 bombers were making flights over South Korea as part of annual military exercises.

N. Korea threatens U.S. military bases
North Korean video targets White House
Rodman reveals North Korea secrets
Lawmaker: Kim Jong Un is immature

"The U.S. should not forget that the Andersen Air Force Base on Guam where the B-52s take off and naval bases in Japan proper and Okinawa where nuclear-powered submarines are launched are within the striking range of the DPRK's precision strike means," the North Korean military said Thursday.

Despite Pyongyang's rhetoric, no U.S. Navy submarines are based in Okinawa or anywhere else in Japan, although they may make calls at U.S. bases there. DPRK is short for Democratic People's Republic of Korea, North Korea's official name.

Interactive: Nuclear weapons: Who has what?

Citing what it called the United States' "nuclear blackmail and threat," the North said it that it, too, would "take corresponding military actions."

Pyongyang had already reacted angrily to the B-52 flights, warning Wednesday of "strong military counteraction" if the planes made more sorties over the Korean Peninsula.

Angry words after new sanctions

Tensions have spiked in the region since North Korea carried out its latest underground nuclear test last month, the first under its new young leader Kim Jong Un, prompting the United Nations Security Council to respond by toughening sanctions on the secretive regime.

The sanctions enraged the North further, and during the week when the Security Council was voting on them, it ratcheted up its threats, suggesting it could carry out a pre-emptive nuclear strike on the United States and South Korea.

Although analysts and American officials say Pyongyang is still a long way from being able to carry out such an attack on the U.S. mainland, the United States' bases in Japan and Guam appear to be within range of the North's conventional weapons.

In its comments Thursday, "the Kim Jong Un regime is just firing back" at its enemies in response to the B-52 flights and the military exercises of which they're a part, said Lee Jung-hoon, a professor of international relations at Yonsei University in Seoul.

He said that the U.N. sanctions were also likely to be fueling the North's ire, but that the regime's threats were largely driven by domestic concerns.

"They're doing all this to prop up the regime," Lee said.

The military first strategy

Since Kim took over from his father as the head of the North Korean government in late 2011, he appears to have maintained the pursuit of a stronger military deterrent rather than adopting a more conciliatory approach to relations with South Korea and the United States.

The result has been a major foreign policy headache for U.S. President Barack Obama, with Kim showing more interest in dialogue with the basketball star Dennis Rodman than U.S. diplomats.

As well as the nuclear test, his government has conducted two long-range rocket launches -- one that failed and one that succeeded -- both of which were widely viewed as tests of ballistic missile technology.

Kim has also revamped the military's leadership, ousting some generals and promoting others.

The nuclear test and rocket launches have shattered hopes of any new talks on the North's nuclear program in the near future.

Indeed, Pyongyang has said recently that the program is not up for negotiation and announced that previous nonaggression treaties with Seoul no longer apply.

A new North Korea

The regime's unabashed declarations about its nuclear weapons, which it had been much cagier about in the past, show that "it's not the same North Korea as 10 years ago," Lee said.

The United States and other global powers need to "formulate a whole new strategy" to address the changed situation, according to Lee.

"The way we've been dealing with it for the past two decades has failed," he said of the regime. "It has become close to being able to deploy nuclear weapons."

Although U.S. officials say they don't believe North Korea is in a position to strike the United States at the moment, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel last week announced plans to deploy additional ground-based missile interceptors on the West Coast as part of efforts to enhance the nation's ability to defend itself from attack.

"The reason that we are doing what we are doing, and the reason we are advancing our program here for homeland security, is to not take any chances, is to stay ahead of the threat and to assure any contingency," Hagel said at the time.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
April 2, 2014 -- Updated 1127 GMT (1927 HKT)
Experts warn that under Kim Jong Un's rule, Pyongyang has shown an even greater willingness to raise the stakes than before.
March 18, 2014 -- Updated 1314 GMT (2114 HKT)
China and North Korea criticize a U.N. report that found crimes against humanity committed in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
March 17, 2014 -- Updated 1205 GMT (2005 HKT)
Megumi Yokota was only 13 when she was abducted by a North Korean agent in the 1970s. What happened after that?
March 12, 2014 -- Updated 0430 GMT (1230 HKT)
Report: North Korea uses multiple techniques to defy sanctions, and shows no signs of abandoning its nuclear missile programs.
February 21, 2014 -- Updated 0817 GMT (1617 HKT)
Families torn apart for more than 60 years -- separated by the Korean War -- began to reunite at a mountain resort in North Korea Thursday.
February 18, 2014 -- Updated 1150 GMT (1950 HKT)
A stunning catalog of torture and the widespread abuse of even the weakest of North Koreans reveal a portrait of a brutal state, the UN reported.
February 18, 2014 -- Updated 0431 GMT (1231 HKT)
Former prisoners in North Korea describe horrific stories of being tortured by authorities.
February 14, 2014 -- Updated 1527 GMT (2327 HKT)
Skiing is not the first thing that springs to mind when thinking about the isolated nation, but North Korea's ski resort is world class.
February 8, 2014 -- Updated 0315 GMT (1115 HKT)
American Kenneth Bae, who is being held in North Korea, has been moved from a hospital to a labor camp.
January 8, 2014 -- Updated 0213 GMT (1013 HKT)
Why is he being held by North Korea in a prison camp? These are the questions for many since his arrest in the isolated country in 2012.
January 27, 2014 -- Updated 0818 GMT (1618 HKT)
The first time the South Korean factory owner watched his North Korean employees nibble on a Choco Pie, they appeared shocked.
January 8, 2014 -- Updated 0126 GMT (0926 HKT)
Dennis Rodman's "Big Bang in Pyongyang" may be in a league of its own, but other stars too have mixed with repressive regimes before.
December 19, 2013 -- Updated 1800 GMT (0200 HKT)
Former NBA star Dennis Rodman arrives in North Korea to train basketball players, state-run media reports.
December 18, 2013 -- Updated 0250 GMT (1050 HKT)
The nation held a memorial in the honor of former North Korean leader, Kim Jong Il on the second anniversary of his death.
December 13, 2013 -- Updated 1558 GMT (2358 HKT)
Days after he was removed from his powerful military post, Jang Song Thaek was called a traitor and executed.
ADVERTISEMENT