North Korea dismissed warnings by U.S. President Donald Trump that it would face "fire and fury" if it threatened the United States as a "load of nonsense" and outlined detailed plans on for a missile strike near the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam.
Experts in South Korea said the plans unveiled by Pyongyang ratcheted up risks significantly, since Washington was likely to view any missile aimed at its territory as a provocation, even if launched as a test.
North Korea's apparently rapid progress in developing nuclear weapons and missiles capable of reaching the U.S. mainland has fueled tensions that erupted into a war of words between Washington and Pyongyang this week, unnerving regional powers and global investors.
|US President Donald Trump and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un.
Asian stocks fell, with shares in Seoul slumping to a 7-week low, after North Korea said it was finalizing plans to fire four intermediate-range missiles over Japan to land 30-40 km (18-25 miles) from Guam, adding detail to a plan first announced on Wednesday.
European shares also opened weaker.
Guam, more than 3,000 km (2,000 miles) to the southeast of North Korea, is home to about 163,000 people and a U.S. Navy installation that includes a submarine squadron, a Coast Guard group and an air base.
As announced by North Korea, the planned path of the missiles would cross some of the world's busiest sea and air traffic routes.
The North Korean army would complete its plans in mid-August, ready for leader Kim Jong Un's order, state-run KCNA news agency reported, citing General Kim Rak Gyom, commander of the Strategic Force of the Korean People's Army.
"The Hwasong-12 rockets to be launched by the KPA (Korean People's Army) will cross the sky above Shimane, Hiroshima and Koichi Prefectures of Japan," the report said. "They will fly 3,356.7 km (2,085.8 miles) for 1,065 seconds and hit the waters 30 to 40 km away from Guam."Reuters