AN ATTACK on the tiny Pacific territory of Guam could escalate to draw in the world's most powerful nations within 24 hours under a rarely-used clause of the NATO military alliance.

That's if members of the North Atlantic Council make the political decision that a strike against the island would invoke the key "Article 5" of NATO's collective defence strategy that deems an attack against a member state an attack against all.

President Donald Trump speaks during a briefing at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J. Donald Trump's threat to unleash fire and fury on North Korea
President Donald Trump speaks during a briefing at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J. Donald Trump's threat to unleash fire and fury on North Korea AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File

NATO spokesman Dylan White would not speculate on the possibility, but said the alliance is "concerned" by North Korea's "pattern of inflammatory and threatening rhetoric".

"We call on North Korea to refrain from further provocations and abandon its nuclear and ballistic missile programs in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner, as required by the United Nations," he told news.com.au.

"We call on Pyongyang not to raise tensions further, and to engage in a credible dialogue with the international community."

FILE - In this April 13, 2017 file photo, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, center,  is accompanied by Pak Pong Ju, right, Hwang Pyong So, second left, as he arrives for the official opening of the Ryomyong residential area, in Pyongyang, North Korea.  Pyongyang will seek the extradition of anyone involved in what it says was a CIA-backed plot to kill leader Kim Jung Un April, 2017,  with a biochemical poison, a top North Korean foreign ministry official said Thursday, May 11, 2017.(AP Photo/Wong Maye-E, File)
FILE - In this April 13, 2017 file photo, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, center, is accompanied by Pak Pong Ju, right, Hwang Pyong So, second left, as he arrives for the official opening of the Ryomyong residential area, in Pyongyang, North Korea. Pyongyang will seek the extradition of anyone involved in what it says was a CIA-backed plot to kill leader Kim Jung Un April, 2017, with a biochemical poison, a top North Korean foreign ministry official said Thursday, May 11, 2017.(AP Photo/Wong Maye-E, File) Wong Maye-E

On Wednesday, President Trump continued to ramp up his aggressive rhetoric against North Korea despite being at odds with other world leaders who deemed it unhelpful.

"My first order as President was to renovate and modernise our nuclear arsenal. It is now far stronger and more powerful than ever before," he tweeted.

"Hopefully we will never have to use this power, but there will never be a time that we are not the most powerful nation in the world!"

It follows earlier comments in which he said North Korea would see "fire, fury and frankly power, the likes of which this world has never seen before" if it continued to push its nuclear program, leading to a threat against Guam from the rogue state.

Meanwhile US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called for calm and said people should "sleep well at night".

"Nothing that I have seen and nothing that I know of would indicate that the situation has dramatically changed in the last 24 hours," he said.

Guam's status as an "unincorporated territory" of the United States means it is essentially considered part of the country for military purposes, despite residents not being able to vote.

 

FILE - In this July 4, 2017, file photo distributed by the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, second from right, inspects the preparation of the launch of a Hwasong-14 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) in North Korea's northwest. The state's Emergency Management Agency on Friday, July 21, 2017 announced a public education campaign. Agency Administrator Vern Miyagi says because it would take a missile about 15 minutes to arrive, there won't be much time to prepare. He says that's why instructions are simple:
FILE - In this July 4, 2017, file photo distributed by the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, second from right, inspects the preparation of the launch of a Hwasong-14 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) in North Korea's northwest. The state's Emergency Management Agency on Friday, July 21, 2017 announced a public education campaign. Agency Administrator Vern Miyagi says because it would take a missile about 15 minutes to arrive, there won't be much time to prepare. He says that's why instructions are simple: "Get inside, stay inside and stay tuned." (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP, File)

Following the North Korea threat, Governor Eddie Baza Calvo said he was in touch with the White House and told residents "there is no threat to our island or the Marianas".

He also reassured worried residents an attack on Guam is "an attack or threat on the United States" and said, "Guam is on American soil".

"We are not just a military installation ... I want to ensure we are prepared for any eventuality."

Article 6 of the NATO treaty states an armed attack against a member is also deemed to include their territories, vessels, forces or aircraft inside that territory.

A missile that analysts believe could be the North Korean Hwasong-12 is paraded across Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang in April. This week intelligence documents showed North Korean plans are further along than anticipated.

A missile that analysts believe could be the North Korean Hwasong-12 is paraded across Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang in April.

 

24 HOUR WINDOW

The collective defence clause was invoked for the first time by the North Atlantic Council following the 9/11 terror attacks when countries moved within 24 hours.

Within one month an alliance of nations had agreed on eight measures to be deployed in NATO's first counter-terrorism operation. It has since been used in Syria and the wake of the Ukraine-Russia crisis.

Last month the North Atlantic Council council condemned North Korea's launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile and called for UN-led sanctions on the issue.

"We are deeply concerned by the persistent, provocative, and destabilising behaviour of the DPRK, including both its ongoing nuclear weapons program and its numerous tests of ballistic missiles and ballistic missile technology in 2017," a statement from the council said following the unprecedented Independence Day test.

"The DPRK's flagrant disregard of international agreements and confrontational actions undermine regional stability, jeopardise the prospects for lasting peace in the Korean Peninsula, and pose a growing threat to international peace and security."

Australia is regarded as a NATO "partner" state that has contributed troops to missions in the past but is not a fully fledged member.

Earlier this year, NATO Military Committee Chair, General Petr Pavel, said he had the "utmost respect" for Australian forces and the country is a "highly valued, reliable and respected partner."

The Australian government failed to respond to questions regarding preparations for a nuclear attack from North Korea.

China, Guam and Hawaii have recently conducted preparations to ready their military and citizens.

Hawaii's Emergency Management Authority made headlines after issuing emergency guidance advising people to seek shelter within minutes of an attack, avoid looking directly at light and staying in blast resistant shelters for up to 14 days.

News Corp Australia

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