12 August, 2017
The exercises are an annual event, but come as Pyongyang says it is readying a plan to fire off four "Hwasong-12" missiles toward the USA island territory and major military hub.
Long used to living within the range of North Korea's artillery, people in the South have generally ignored its aggressiveness and series of nuclear and long-range missile tests. Now it is essentially a staging area, which sees rotations of bomber groups coming through. Their location in a USA territory means its military is just hours from potential flashpoints in the western Pacific.
According to the Pacific Air Forces website, the bombers are joining their counterparts from South Korea and Japan in sequenced bilateral missions.
North Korea's bold threat includes "several places they can stop or give up", Carlin said.
There are, however, political complications in launching attacks from USA bases hosted by allies closer to Pyongyang, should the U.S. retaliate to Kim's latest threats.
A United States attack using its bases on Japan's main islands or Okinawa, for example, would bring Japan into any conflict, says Schuster.
The real danger of any preemptive USA strikes against North Korea's weapons sites would be that Pyongyang, whose conventional forces are considered no match for those of the United States and its allies, might resort to using its chemical and biological weapons and ultimately its nuclear arsenal.
Here's a closer look at Guam and its role in the US and North Korea's ongoing war of words.
The United States and its allies have two primary missile defense options to intercept a missile between North Korea and Guam.
The exercise around Japan's southern Kyushu island involved two US Air Force B-1B Lancer bombers and two Japanese F-2 jet fighters, Japan's Air Self Defence Force (ASDF) said in a news release.
He added that the U.S. "routinely uses" Aegis-equipped warships around the island chain of the Marianas, of which Guam is the largest.
North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho stood before the ASEAN Regional Forum meeting and said the following: "We will, under no circumstances, put the nukes and ballistic rockets on the negotiating table".
Naval Base Guam is an important outpost for US fast-attack nuclear powered submarines that are a key means for gathering intelligence in the region, including off the Korean peninsula and in the South China Sea where China has been building military bases on man-made islands that have stirred tension across Asia.
North Korea experts and diplomats have previously told Business Insider that Pyongyang may be willing to curb parts of its nuclear program in exchange for limitations on those exercises.
Pyongyang did not develop its nuclear capability to be the aggressor in a war with the United States, says CNN Military Analyst Rick Francona.
Lost in the media's frantic coverage about the peaking North Korea crisis, a small, but very important detail escaped much of the US's notice that could be a window to peace between two feuding nuclear powers.
"Since the subway stations in South Korea have enough depth and strength, we will be able to survive attacks". For years now, we have learned to not take Pyongyang seriously when it lets loose with it colorful rhetorical barrages.
Tourists frolic on the waters overlooking posh hotels in Tumon tourist district on the island of Guam, a U.S. Pacific Territory.