North Korea’s leader has delayed a decision on firing missiles towards the US Pacific territory of Guam while he waits to see what President Donald Trump does next, the North’s state media says.
- North Korea had said its plans for the Guam launch would be ready this week
- The plans prompted a surge of tensions this week
- Seoul says it will prevent war by all means
Signs of easing tensions on the Korean peninsula helped stock markets rally for a second day running even as the United States and South Korea prepared for more joint military drills, and as experts warned North Korea could still proceed with its provocative plan.
In his first public appearance in about two weeks, Kim Jong-un examined the plan to fire four missiles to land near Guam, the official KCNA said in a report.
“He said that if the Yankees persist in their extremely dangerous reckless actions on the Korean peninsula and in its vicinity, testing the self-restraint of [North Korea], the latter will make an important decision as it already declared,” the report said.
In photos released with the KCNA report, Mr Kim was seen holding a baton and pointing at a map showing a flight path for the missiles appearing to start from North Korea’s east coast, flying over Japan towards Guam.
Experts have urged caution in assuming North Korea’s missile threats were a bluff. (KRT via AP)
North Korea has often threatened to attack the United States and its bases, and released similar photos in the past without following through.
Pyongyang’s plans to fire missiles near Guam prompted a surge in tensions in the region last week, with Donald Trump saying the US military was “locked and loaded” if North Korea acted unwisely.
Seoul to ‘block war’
South Korean President Moon Jae-in, in a speech commemorating the anniversary of the nation’s liberation from Japanese military rule in 1945, said there would be no military action without Seoul’s consent.
The Liberation Day holiday is a rare occasion celebrated by both North and South Korea.
“Military action on the Korean peninsula can only be decided by South Korea and no-one else can decide to take military action without the consent of South Korea,” Mr Moon said.
“The Government, putting everything on the line, will block war by all means.”
Japan will be seeking further reassurance from Washington in meetings between Japan’s defence chief and Foreign Minister and their US counterparts on Thursday.
“The strategic environment is becoming harsher and we need to discuss how we will respond to that,” a Japanese foreign ministry official said in a briefing in Tokyo.
“We will look for the US to reaffirm its defence commitment, including the nuclear deterrent.”
Joint US-South Korean military drills, which are sure to anger Pyongyang, will begin next week.
China on Tuesday reiterated calls for restraint on the peninsula, saying it hoped all sides could put out the flames, and not add oil to the fire with their words and actions.
North Korea’s arsenal of long-range missiles lies just over 3,000 kilometres away from Guam. (ABC News)