Pyongyang slammed the US "aggression" and threatened "powerful practical military counteractions". The Korean Central News Agency quoted a spokesman of the Korean People's Army as saying: "We formally inform the White House and Pentagon that the ever-escalating US hostile policy toward the DPRK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) and its reckless nuclear threat will be smashed by the strong will of all the united service personnel and people and cutting-edge smaller, lighter and diversified nuclear strike means."
According to the unnamed spokesman, "merciless operation" of his country's "revolutionary armed forces in this regard has been finally examined and ratified". He stressed that "The US had better ponder over the prevailing grave situation."
Speaking earlier, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel confirmed that Washington is concerned about Pyongyang's motives. "Some of the actions they've taken over the last few weeks present a real and clear danger and threat to the interests, certainly of our allies, starting with South Korea and Japan, and also the threats that the North Koreans have leveled directly at the United States regarding our base in Guam, threatened Hawaii, threatened the West Coast of the United States," he said.
KCNA reported last week that North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un had ordered rockets to be put on "standby for fire so that they may strike any time the US mainland, its military bases in the operational theaters in the Pacific, including Hawaii and Guam, and those in South Korea."
In view of this threat, the Pentagon is looking to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense System (Thaad) to Guam as soon as possible. Two warships are also being sent to the Asia-Pacific region. The USS John McCain, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer that can intercept ballistic missiles, has already been positioned off the Korean peninsula and another warship, the USS Decatur, is expected to reach the region shortly.