North Korea's military said Tuesday its artillery forces were at their highest-level combat posture, with the isolated nation's state-run news agency claiming long-range missiles were aimed at U.S. military bases in Hawaii, Guam, and on the U.S. mainland.
An increasingly bellicose North Korea threatened weeks ago to target the U.S. with a nuclear strike, though the nation isn't currently believed to even possess the technological capability for such an attack.
The North does have hundreds of long and medium range rockets, easily capable of hitting South Korea -- where thousands of U.S. troops are based.
Seoul said Tuesday it wasn't seeing any suspicious North Korean military activity, however, and analysts say a direct North Korean attack is extremely unlikely, especially during joint U.S.-South Korean military drills that end April 30.
But the rival Koreas have had several bloody naval skirmishes in disputed Yellow Sea waters and there's some worry among analysts about a provocation after the drills.
"From this moment, the Supreme Command of the Korean People's Army will be putting in combat duty posture No. 1 all field artillery units including long-range artillery units strategic rocket units that will target all enemy object in U.S. invasionary bases on its mainland, Hawaii and Guam," Reuters quotes the North's KCNA news agency as saying.
After the report from KCNA, China urged all sides on the Korean peninsula to exercise restraint -- neutral refrain repeated by Beijing after most provocative moves by North Korea.
Observers said Tuesday's statement by the North Korean army's Supreme Command and other recent rhetoric is partly meant to strengthen internal loyalty to leader Kim Jong Un.
Pyongyang is angry over recent U.N. sanctions over its nuclear test and says Washington and Seoul plan to invade.