North Korean Tensions Put Americans on Tiny Guam in Crosshairs

An A-10 Thunderbolt attack aircraft readies for takeoff at a US air base in Osan South Korea 10 Aug 2017

An A-10 Thunderbolt attack aircraft readies for takeoff at a US air base in Osan South Korea 10 Aug 2017

This week saw a dramatic escalation of tensions on the Korean Peninsula. Since then, North Korea has conducted a torrent of missile tests and two nuclear tests, boosting its efforts to make nuclear weapons small enough to fit on long-range missiles.

It said the plan, which involves the missiles hitting waters 30 to 40 kilometers (19 to 25 miles) from the island, could be sent to leader Kim Jong Un for approval within a week or so. "I think they probably have 60 missiles with nuclear weapons on them", he says.

Immediate confirmation from the defence ministry was not available but an official at the crisis management office of the Kochi prefectural government said the PAC-3 had been deployed.

For Pyongyang, Guam is seen as a prime target because it's the closest USA military presence on American soil to North Korea, and because military assets from here are sometimes deployed near the Korean Peninsula.

The missile test plans might seem like a reckless response to Mr. Trump's warning that he would unleash "fire and fury" on the North if it continued threatening the United States.

Similar threats in 2013 led Guam's U.S. Congresswoman Madeleine Z. Bordallo to advocate for the THAAD system, she said in a statement Wednesday.

The same report gave unusually specific details of North Korea's plan to launch four Hwasong-12 intermediate-range missiles on a flight of 18 minutes across Japanese skies to land in waters surrounding Guam, about 30km to 40km away from land. "Ironically, it may be Trump that escalates and causes war". It seeks a real nuclear deterrent to undermine the alliance between Washington and Seoul and eventually force the United States into negotiations for a peace treaty to formally end the Korean War, which was stopped by an armistice. There is a US air base there, a Navy installation and a Coast Guard group. During the Cuban missile crisis, former president Kennedy made sure the USA didn't box in Khrushchev in order to maintain peace. "It shares false information supposedly coming from the Navy regarding North Korea", Calvo stated on his Facebook page. Hundreds of thousands of troops and huge arsenals are arrayed on both sides of the tense demilitarized zone between the two Koreas.

But it's not the same talk of impending crisis you hear from politicians on the U.S. mainland, a place where Guam is rarely seen on the news.

USA intelligence officials are pretty sure North Korea can put a nuclear warhead on an intercontinental missile that could reach the United States.

Even while the missile test is not finalized, it would be hard for Mr. Kim to reverse course once he approves, analysts said.

Following days of grave threats to North Korea, Trump directed his latest warning Friday directly to the communist country's leader, Kim Jong Un.

More than 3,000 kilometres southeast of North Korea, Guam is an important strategic hub for the United States military.

"We always maintain a high state of readiness and have the capabilities to counter any threat, to include those from North Korea", Lt. Col. Christopher Logan, a Pentagon spokesman, told Business Insider. She called on the U.N. Security Council to continue to address the issue.

"The military action the KPA is about to take will be an effective remedy for restraining the frantic moves of the U.S. in the southern part of the Korean peninsula and its vicinity".

Guam's Homeland Security Adviser George Charfauros urged calm and said defenses are in place for such threats.

McCain says he takes exception to Trump's comments "because you got to be sure you can do what you say you're going to do".

Even though missiles from the North would nearly certainly carry dummy warheads, analysts said, a failure to intercept them would deal Mr. Trump a mortifying setback and could even weaken the rationale for installing an American missile defense system in South Korea.

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