North Korea Says It Won't Fire Missiles At Guam After All

Can South Korea save the day?

North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-un, has urged Washington to make the "right choice" and avert any confrontation after he was briefed on the plans of an "enveloping" strike on the USA territory of Guam.

Tensions have been mounting since the North tested two intercontinental ballistic missiles last month, which appeared to bring much of the U.S. within range.

He added: "If they shoot at the United States, I'm assuming they hit the United States".

Officials have told United States media that spy satellites have observed DPRK mobile missile launcher movement, indicating a intermediate-ballistic missile launch may be being prepared.

The defense chief said the Pentagon is able to tell "within moments" where North Korea's missiles are headed, and said the United States would try to shoot down anything that threatened America.

However, the USA military sources told CNN that the movement is "not believed to be directly related to the threat issued by North Korea last week to strike the waters near Guam".

On Tuesday morning, North Korea's state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) released a statement noting that, after consideration, Kim Jong-un, the country's supreme leader, had decided not to proceed with an order to carry out a launch of four intermediate-range ballistic missiles (IRBMs) with the intention of striking the waters near the USA territory of Guam.

Tuesday marks the anniversary of Japan's expulsion from the Korean peninsula, a rare holiday celebrated by both the North and the South. Moon and Kim, who has not been seen publicly for several days, are both expected to make addresses on their respective sides of the heavily militarised border.

This might be hard as the United States and its ally South Korea plan next week to start annual defensive military drills that the North claims are preparation for invasion.

Second, given the way last week's statement framed the test - as an operational plan that would require Kim's decision - the decision to deescalate does not necessarily read as capitulation to US threats.

The United States and South Korea remain technically at war with North Korea after the 1950-53 Korean conflict ended with a truce, not a peace treaty. But Washington is also ready to use the "full range" of its military capabilities in case of provocation, Dunford said. On Monday, U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis even noted that it could provoke the United States to retaliate militarily.

The plans are based on the Hwasong-12, a new missile the country successfully flight-tested for the first time in May.

In photos released with the KCNA report, 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.

North Korea has continued to develop its nuclear and missile programmes to ward off perceived USA hostility, in defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions and sanctions. If the "planned fire of power demonstration" is carried out because of US recklessness, Kim said it will be "the most delightful historic moment when the Hwasong artillerymen will wring the windpipes of the Yankees and point daggers at their necks", the North reported. Washington said China's recent support for U.N. Security Council actions against North Korea is "trending in the right direction".

South Korean President Moon Jae-In weighed in on Tuesday, saying Seoul would avoid a second Korean War at all costs and stressing that "no one may decide to take military action without the consent of the Republic of Korea".



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