North Korea on Wednesday said it was considering plans for a missile strike on the US military base in Guam in the Pacific, after President Donald Trump said any threat to the United States would be met with ''fire and fury''.
Pyongyang says it has enough nuclear warheads small enough to fit inside its missiles and can strike anywhere across the globe and was ''carefully examining'' a plan to strike Guam.
A Korean People's Army spokesman said in a statement carried by state-run KCNA news agency the plan would be put into practice at any moment once leader Kim Jong Un makes a decision.
The US, however, has instructed officials not to engage in rhetoric after the sharp increase in tensions rattled financial markets.
North Korea, meanwhile, accused the United States of devising a ''preventive war'' and warned that any move to execute this would be met with an ''all-out war wiping out all the strongholds of enemies, including the US mainland''.
Washington had several times warned of use force to stop North Korea's ballistic missile and nuclear programmes but said it preferred global diplomatic action, including sanctions. The UN Security Council unanimously imposed new sanctions on North Korea on Saturday.
In comments to reporters in New Jersey on Tuesday, Trump issued his strongest warning yet: ''North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen,'' Trump said.
Pyongyang claims its intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) to be legitimate means of defence against perceived US hostility.
The United States is technically at war with North Korea since the 1950-53 Korean conflict ended in an armistice rather than a peace treaty.
This has exposed roughly 10 million people in South Korea to threats from North Korea, which has massed rockets and artillery across the border.
Tens of thousands of US troops also remain stationed in South Korea and in nearby Japan.