TOKYO - North Korean military figures are putting the final touches on a plan to fire four missiles into the waters around the US territory of Guam. This be presented they leader Kim Jong Un within days.
In a statement last week, Gen. Kim Rak Gyom, commander of the Strategic Force of the Korean People's Army, said the plan to fire "four Hwasong-12 intermediate-range strategic ballistic rockets... to signal a crucial warning to the US" would be ready by "mid-August."
Recent days have seen a significant escalation of tensions in the region as preparations are put in place for a possible launch in Guam, Japan and South Korea.
A notice put out by Guam's Joint Information Center Saturday warned residents how to prepare "for an imminent missile threat."
"Do not look at the flash or fireball, it can blind you. Lie flat on the ground and cover your head. If the explosion is some distance away, it could take 30 seconds or more for the blast wave to hit," the note said.
Guam's Homeland Security Adviser George Charfauros said Friday it would take 14 minutes for a missile fired from North Korea to reach Guam.
This situation also make Japan ready with missile defense. On Saturday, some of Japan's land-based Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) missile interceptors began arriving at Japanese Self Defense Forces (SDF) bases in three of the four prefectures any North Korean missiles would likely fly over en route to Guam.
Pyongyang identified three of those areas -- Shimane, Hiroshima and Kochi prefectures -- in its statement last week.
A spokesman for SDF said the missiles were being deployed not to intercept missiles, but rather "just in case." He did not elaborate.
Sim Tack, a senior analyst for private intelligence firm Stratfor, said the Japanese batteries are designed for protecting the area where they are deployed, "(they are) not meant to shoot missiles out of the sky as they pass over Japan at high altitude."
"So unless those North Korean missiles were to fall short, the Patriots shouldn't have a function to serve in this particular case," he said.
The SDF spokesman said the country's Aegis ballistic missile defense system was deployed in the waters between Japan and the Korean Peninsula, but would not give a specific location.
Aegis is able to track 100 missiles simultaneously and fire interceptors to take out an enemy's ballistic projectiles.