Has North Korea stated that they are planning to actually attack Guam? Or just fire missiles near Guam in a dramatic show of force? Also, did they say the plans are going to be executed mid-August? Or just finalized mid-August?

This story's been covered by many outlets. I've been reading it in both the English and Japanese press the reports in the press are unclear, with some sources indicating an attack on Guam has been threatened, others suggesting that North Korea has only threatened to fire missiles into the sea near Guam.

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    We don't know what NK is planning, we can only answer based on claims made by the NK leadership. You can clarify your question to ask what NK has threatened, instead of what is planned. Downvoters, remember to comment to highlight how the question can be improved.
    – James K
    Aug 10, 2017 at 7:27
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    I think they initially implied they'd hit Guam, and now have walked that back to merely a tremendously provocative and aggressive not-quite-attack. Much like Trump pretty much implied thermo-nuclear destruction for North Korea being impudent and lippy ("fire and fury like the world {which has seen Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Dresden, Tokyo in WWII} has never seen" for continuing to make "threats"), and the entire administration freaked-out and walked that back and put him on "radio silence" regarding the issue. Aug 10, 2017 at 16:55

2 Answers 2


While we cannot know what is actually being planned in the NK military. The announcement from NK as reported by the Washington Post was that they would fire four mid-range ICBMs, into the sea about 30-40km from Guam.

This would be done by mid-August (though no date was given).

The original source of this is kcna, the North Korean offical news source. They say:

The KPA Strategic Force is now carefully examining the operational plan for making an enveloping fire at the areas around Guam with medium-to-long-range strategic ballistic rocket Hwasong-12 in order to contain the U.S. major military bases on Guam including the Anderson Air Force Base in which the U.S. strategic bombers, which get on the nerves of the DPRK and threaten and blackmail it through their frequent visits to the sky above south Korea, are stationed and to send a serious warning signal to the U.S.

The plan is to be soon reported to the Supreme Command soon after going through full examination and completion and will be put into practice in a multi-concurrent and consecutive way any moment once Kim Jong Un, supreme commander of the nuclear force of the DPRK, makes a decision.

The execution of this plan will offer an occasion for the Yankees to be the first to experience the might of the strategic weapons of the DPRK closest.

Explicitly speaking again, the strategic weapons which the DPRK manufactured at the cost of blood and sweat, risking everything, are not a bargaining thing for getting acknowledgement from others and for bartering for anything, but they serve as substantial military means for resolutely countering the U.S. political and economic pressure and military threat as what has been observed now.

Further details via yonhap news:

The North's Strategic Force said that it is "seriously" examining an "enveloping strike" of Guam with four Hwasong-12 missiles and will finalize the plan by mid-August, according to the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

Just one day after the North outlined its strike plan, it unveiled details in a tit-for-tat bellicose rhetoric against Washington which says all options are on the table.

The North said that the missiles will cross the sky above the Shimane, Hiroshima and Koichi prefectures of Japan and fly 3,356.7 kilometers for about 18 minutes before landing 30 to 40 km away from Guam.

The plan was devised in a bid to "interdict the enemy forces on major military bases on Guam and to signal a crucial warning to the U.S.," the report said in an English statement. The launches will be upon its leader Kim Jong-un's order.

The quotes in that report are yonhap news's translations of a statement on NK television from Kim Rak-gyom, commander of the Strategic Forces.

Now while this would not be directly hitting the island, it is still well within the Guam exclusive economic zone, and indeed within the Contiguous zone surrounding Guam. It is part of the sea that the US claims exclusive rights over. It is not part of the high seas, and so could be seen as a strike on US territory. There is no indication in the published statement that NK would put a warhead (nuclear or conventional) on the missile.

There is also concern about the accuracy of the ICBMs that NK has, and the consequent risk of an accidental hit on the island.

The declared purpose of the proposed strikes is to prevent the US Navy forces based in Guam from being used, and to demonstrate the effective military strength of NK.

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    I don't think that " the Guam exclusive economic zone (...) is part of the sea that is claimed by the USA as part of its territory." is accurate. The EEC (exclusive Economic Zone) is a diffenrent notion from "Territorial Waters". Firing at 30km from Guam (whether NK launchers can be that precise remains unclear to me) would still be 8 km short of the US territory. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Territorial_waters
    – Evargalo
    Aug 10, 2017 at 10:03
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    @OlivierPucher That is correct and i've tried to clarify It would be within the contiguous zone, and it could be interpreted as an attack on the US. It would be at very least an extremely provokative act, and one which is intended to call America's bluff.
    – James K
    Aug 10, 2017 at 10:47
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    Just some general musing: enveloping fire at the areas around Guam - If they actually fire four missiles that hit roughly equidistant in all directions around the island, that will be really impressive and make a strong statement. If they fire four missiles that all fall short in the same general area, significantly less so.
    – Bobson
    Aug 10, 2017 at 17:36
  • The USA is not a party of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea which establishes the idea of exclusive economic zones. But that's a question for law.sx. Aug 12, 2017 at 12:47

The plan they revealed today reportedly was about shooting near Guam.

“The Hwasong-12 rockets to be launched by the KPA [Korean People’s Army] will cross the sky above Shimani, Hiroshima and Koichi prefectures of Japan,” the statement [attributed to General Kim Rak Gyom, the head of the North Korea’s strategic forces] said. “They will fly for 3,356.7 km for 1,065 seconds and hit the waters 30 to 40km away from Guam.”

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