SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea said Tuesday that leader Kim Jong Un was briefed on his military’s plans to launch missiles into waters near Guam as part of an effort to create “enveloping fire” near the U.S. military hub in the Pacific.

The comments, while typically belligerent, were significant because they appeared to signal a path to defuse a deepening crisis with Washington over a weapons program that is seen as having the ability to send a nuclear missile to the U.S. mainland.

During an inspection of the army’s Strategic Forces, Kim praised the military for drawing up a “close and careful plan” and said he would watch the “foolish and stupid conduct of the Yankees” a little more before deciding whether to give an order for the missile test, the North’s official Korean Central News Agency said.

Kim said North Korea will conduct the planned missile launches if the “Yankees persist in their extremely dangerous reckless actions on the Korean Peninsula and its vicinity” and that the United States should “think reasonably and judge property” to avoid shame, the news agency said.

Lobbing missiles toward Guam would be a deeply provocative act from the U.S. perspective. U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said the United Sates would take out any such missile seen to be heading for American soil and declared any such North Korean attack could lead to war.

Kim’s comments, however, with their conditional tone, seemed to hold out the possibility that friction could ease if the United States made some sort of gesture that Pyongyang considered a move to back away from previous “extremely dangerous reckless actions.” The United States and South Korea plan next week, however, to start annual defensive military drills that the North claims are preparation for invasion.

The Korean People’s Army’s Strategic Forces said last week that it would finalize by mid-August a plan to fire four intermediate ballistic missiles near Guam, which is about 2,000 miles from Pyongyang, and send it to Kim for his approval.

The North Korean plans to fire near Guam are based on the Hwasong-12, a new intermediate range missile the country successfully flight-tested for the first time in May. The liquid-fuel missile is designed to be fired from road mobile launchers and has been previously described by North Korea as built for attacking Alaska and Hawaii.

The North followed the May launch with two flight tests of its Hwasong-14 ICBM last month. Analysts said that a wide swath of the continental United States, including Los Angeles and Chicago, could be within reach of those missiles, once perfected.