KCNA: Japan Launch Was A "Prelude To Containing Guam" (Photos)

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KCNA: Japan Launch Was A "Prelude To Containing Guam" (Photos) Promo Image

The launch of the Hwasong-12 missile over northern Japan was "a meaningful prelude to containing Guam," North Korean state media claimed on Aug. 30.

Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) also stated that the missile -- dubbed the "ultra-modern rocket system" -- was the first one launched from Pyongyang, the nation's capital and home of its leader, Kim Jong-un.

KCNA also divulged some of the reasoning behind the attack, adding that it occurred on the 107th anniversary of North Korea's annexation from Japan, CNN reports.

Kim presided over the launch and was "very satisfied with the performance of the missile," according to what North Korean officials told CNN.

The news agency claimed that the launch sent a message in response to the U.S.-South Korean drill and was the first step in a military operation against the U.S. Pacific.

The previous day, Trump spoke with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to discuss North Korea, reports CNN.  The two agreed that other nations should increase pressure on North Korea.  According to CNN, both Shinzo and South Korea's president Moon Jae-in are in favor of imposing stricter sanctions on the country.

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Trump said that "all options were on the table" in terms of how to respond to North Korea's missile attack, though a message posted on Twitter next day made it clear that diplomatic negotiation is not one of them.

"The U.S. has been talking to North Korea, and paying them extortion money, for 25 years," Trump tweeted at 5:47 a.m. on Aug. 30. "Talking is not the answer!"

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis dismissed the president's comment in a meeting at the Pentagon later that day.

"No, we’re never out of diplomatic solutions," Mattis said. "We continue to work together, and the minister and I share a responsibility to provide for the protection of our nations, our populations and our interests, which is what we are here to discuss today."

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As the closest U.S. territory to North Korea and the home of two military bases, Guam has been threatened by North Korea before -- once in 2013, and more recently earlier in August after a series of threats between Kim and Trump.

Despite North Korea's renewed attack plans, Guam maintains that there is no increased threat.

"We knew, based on North Korea events in previous years, that with the joint exercise between the US, South Korea, and its Allies, we can expect rhetoric and activity in North Korea," said Guam's homeland security adviser, George Charfauros.

The New York Daily News notes that North Korea had previously warned that they might launch an attack on Guam by Aug. 15.  That day came and went without any military action. 

Still, the U.S. is ramping up its defense capabilities against a potential missile attack.  

Early in the morning on Aug. 30, the U.S. Missile Defense Agency conducted a test to intercept a medium-range ballistic missile in the waters of Hawaii.  The Washington Post reports that it was the second successful test of its kind after the first one in December 2016.

The U.S. currently has ballistic missile interceptors at Fort Greely in Alaska and Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, according to The Washington Post.  Navy Adm. Harry Harris, chief of the Pacific Command, suggested at the Pentagon in April that it may be wise to equip Hawaii with some of those missiles.

"I believe that our ballistic missile architecture is sufficient to protect Hawaii today, but it can be overwhelmed," said Harris at a House Armed Services Committee hearing. "Someone would have to make a decision on which one to take out or not [if the U.S. faced a missile attack]. So that’s a difficult decision."

Sources: CNN, New York Daily News, The Washington Post / Featured Image: U.S. Navy Photo via Wikimedia Commons / Embedded Images: KCNA/REUTERS via New York Daily News, Missile Defense Agency via The Washington Post

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