Published: Wed, August 16, 2017
Science | By Nancy Frank

Kim Jong Un's disappearance sparks concerns missile launch could be imminent

Kim Jong Un's disappearance sparks concerns missile launch could be imminent

Kim's remarks about future USA conduct were seen as a clear reference to large-scale military exercises held every year by South Korea and the United States that are expected to kick off later this month.

North Korea's leader has delayed a decision on firing missiles towards Guam while he waits to see what the United States does next, the North's state media said on Tuesday, as South Korea's president said Seoul would seek to prevent war by all means.

"He may take it as an opportunity to prove himself, or as an opportunity to let cooler heads prevail".

China said on Tuesday that the North Korean nuclear crisis had reached a "turning point" and it was time to enter peace talks.

Guam and the USA air and naval forces that are based there have been under alert since it was named by North Korea as a potential demonstration target, with the regime threatening to fire missiles into the sea near the island that's home to some 160,000 people.

Trump unleashed a series of unusually strong warnings in response, saying the communist nation should prepare for "fire and fury" if it continued to threaten the US He later added that military solutions are "locked and loaded" should the North act "unwisely".

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Guam has issued guidelines for residents on the island in case of a nuclear attack launched by North Korea . Shooting down the North's missiles would hamper its ability to glean the flight data it needs.

On the same day, both Koreas marked the 72nd year of liberation from imperial Japanese rule.

However, tensions began to ease in Guam after Pyongyang's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported that Kim had examined plans to fire missiles near Guam, but made no move towards an immediate strike.

On a screen next to Mr Kim and officials from the country's missile units was the satellite image of Guam's Anderson Air Force Base.

That would bring relations with the US back to the status quo, but not change things much on the ground in North Korea.

Mr Moon yesterday reiterated his commitment to a peaceful resolution, saying military action against the North should be "decided by ourselves and not by anybody else".

CNN reported that United States spy satellites detected a North Korean mobile missile launcher being moved in a way indicating preparations were being made for a possible launch.

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According to KCNA, Kim Jong-un chose to postpone the Guam operation to "watch a little more the foolish and stupid conduct of the Yankees".

"You can't make all those kinds of decisions in advance", Mattis said. Indeed North Korea's latest statement calls for the USA to stop provocations, and accuses the United States of pushing the Korean Peninsula to the brink of war.

In 2013 when tensions ran high as North Korea threatened missile strikes on US Pacific bases, including Guam and Hawaii, it also released photographs of Kim inside his military command centre signing the order to put rockets on standby to attack the US mainland.

"The United States, which was the first to bring numerous strategic nuclear equipment near us, should first make the right decision and show through actions if they wish to ease tensions on the Korean peninsula and prevent a risky military clash", Mr Kim was cited as saying.

Analysts who spoke to The Straits Times were hesitant to call the latest developments a cooling of tensions. -South Korean military drills sure to anger Pyongyang.

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