North Korea ordered its rocket and long-range artillery units to be combat ready and on the “highest alert” on Tuesday. Pyongyang made new threats against U.S. bases in Hawaii, Guam and mainland America, saying that U.S. facilities would be "reduced to ashes and flames the moment the first attack is unleashed."
The aggressive statement comes as a response to joint military drills by U.S. and South Korean forces which began in the area earlier this month. Last week, North Korea warned that it would attack U.S. bases in the Pacific if its “enemies … make even the slightest movement.” Reuters reports that South Korea's defense ministry said it saw no sign of imminent military action by North Korea.
The military statement said: “From this moment the… supreme command will put on the highest alert all the field artillery units including strategic rocket units and long-range artillery units which are assigned to strike bases of the U.S. imperialist aggressor troops in the U.S. mainland and on Hawaii and Guam and other operational zone in the Pacific as well as all the enemy targets in south Korea and its vicinity.”
North Korea has threatened nuclear attacks on the United States and South Korea in the past, but many question whether the country actually has the capability to hit the U.S. with a long-range attack. Military bases in the Pacific are believed to be within North Korea’s range.
According to NBC News, Tuesday’s announcement is the first time that North Korea has referred to "Il-ho" – its highest level combat readiness posture.