North Korea is considering carrying out missile strikes on the US Pacific territory of Guam, it has said.
The threat comes as the latest development in the sharply intensifying tensions between the two nations.
The move from the North comes after US president Donald Trump warned the regime that any threat to the United States would be met with 'fire and fury'.
"North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States," Trump told journalists at his club in Bedminster, New Jersey. "They will be met with fire and the fury like the world has never seen."
Passers-by in Seoul watch President Trump's speech. Credit: PA
Pyongyang said it was 'carefully examining' a plan to strike Guam, located 3,400km (2,100 miles) away, and threatened to create an 'enveloping fire'.
North Korea experts had warned that Trump's aggressive rhetoric could fan the fire and end up backfiring, convincing Kim Jong Un that his regime is under immediate threat and causing him to launch what he sees as a pre-emptive attack.
"It is dangerous and reckless and counterproductive for Donald Trump to threaten the annihilation of North Korea," said Daryl Kimball, the head of the Washington-based Arms Control Association. "What we need is a dialogue to reduce tension and avoid catastrophic miscalculation. We are currently on the road to a conflict and we have to get to the off-ramp."
"I don't know what he's saying and I've long ago given up trying to interpret what he says," Republican senator John McCain told an Arizona radio station. "That kind of rhetoric, I'm not sure how it helps."
North Korea tested an ICBM only last month. Credit: PA
Recently, the UN imposed further economic sanctions on North Korea, which Pyongyang described as a 'violent violation of our sovereignty', warning the US would 'pay a price'.
In spite of the threat, there is no sign that an attack on Guam is imminent.
"I know we woke up to media reports of North Korea's talk of revenge on the United States and this so-called new-found technology that allows them to target Guam," said Guam governor Eddie Baza Calvo in a statement.
"I want to reassure the people of Guam that currently there is no threat to our island or the Marianas," he continued. "I spoke to Joint Region Marianas Commander Rear Admiral Shoshana Chatfield who confirmed this with me.
"Additionally, I have reached out to the White House this morning. An attack or threat to Guam is a threat or attack on the United States. They have said that America will be defended.
"With that said, I want to ensure that we are prepared for any eventuality. I will be convening the Unified Coordination Group, which includes myself and the Rear Admiral, to discuss the state of readiness of our military and our local first responders.
"God Bless the people of Guam and God Bless The United States of America."
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