North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has approved a plan that would put his country’s rockets on standby to hit U.S. targets after American stealth bombers carried out a practice mission over South Korea.
Kim "said he has judged the time has come to settle accounts with the U.S. imperialists in view of the prevailing situation," the state-run KCNA news agency reported.
Although it is not believed that North Korea has the capability to hit the mainland of the U.S., the rockets are aimed at U.S. targets in the Pacific and in South Korea.
"If they make a reckless provocation with huge strategic forces, (we) should mercilessly strike the U.S. mainland, their stronghold, their military bases in the operational theaters in the Pacific, including Hawaii and Guam, and those in South Korea," KCNA reported.
A photo of Kim meeting with military officials was released on Friday. The photo shows the young leader seated with four uniformed officers standing around him. He is looking through documents. A map titled "Plan for the strategic forces to target mainland U.S." that shows straight lines stretching across the Pacific to points on the continental United States is on the wall behind them, reports CNN.
James Hardy, Asia-Pacific editor of IHS Jane's Defense Weekly, wrote in an opinion column: "The fact is that despite the bombast, and unless there has been a miraculous turnaround among North Korea's strategic forces, there is little to no chance that it could successfully land a missile on Guam, Hawaii or anywhere else outside the Korean Peninsula that U.S. forces may be stationed.”
Still, North Korea has made a number of threats in recent weeks and American officials are not taking them lightly. "I think their very provocative actions and belligerent tone, it has ratcheted up the danger, and we have to understand that reality," Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Thursday.