North Korea has said it is considering carrying out missile strikes on the US Pacific territory of Guam.
The report in state media, quoting an earlier military statement, came hours after President Donald Trump threatened North Korea with “fire and fury”.
The North’s official news agency said it was considering a plan to fire medium-to-long-range rockets at Guam, where US strategic bombers are based.
The exchanges marks a sharp rise in rhetoric between the two countries.
The UN recently approved further economic sanctions on North Korea, which Pyongyang said were a “violent violation of our sovereignty”, warning the US would “pay a price”.
On Wednesday, the official KCNA news agency said North Korea was “carefully examining the operational plan for making an enveloping fire at the areas around Guam” using its domestically made medium-to-long-range Hwasong-12 missiles.
The statement reported a military statement issued on Tuesday, which probably came in response to US military drills in Guam.
But it is the latest stage in a heating up of rhetoric between the US and North Korea.
Pyongyang, which has tested nuclear devices five times, tested two intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) in July, claiming it now had the ability to hit the mainland US.
On Tuesday, media reports in the US claimed the North had achieved its goal of making a nuclear warhead small enough to fit inside its missiles.
While not confirmed, this was seen as one of the last obstacles to North Korea being a fully nuclear armed state.
A report in the Washington Post, citing US intelligence officials, suggested North Korea is developing nuclear weapons capable of hitting the US at a much faster rate than expected.
A Japanese government defence white paper also said the weapons programme had “advanced considerably” and that North Korea possibly now had nuclear weapons.
In response, President Trump warned North Korea to stop threatening the US, saying they would be “met with fire and fury like the world has never seen”.
However veteran US Senator John McCain was sceptical about Mr Trump’s statement, saying he was “not sure that President Trump is ready to act”. (Courtesy BBC)