Guam residents fear attack after North Korea statements

Patrice Gainsbourg
Agosto 13, 2017

Today, Naval Base Guam is the home port for four nuclear-powered fast attack submarines and two submarine tenders.

North Korea in turn announced a plan to target the U.S. territory of Guam. "We are not just a military installation", said Governor Eddie Calvo. Seoul is 2,000 miles (3,200 kilometers) to the northwest, Tokyo is 1,500 miles (2,400 kilometers) north and Taipei is 1,700 miles (2,700 kilometers) west.

It was not the first time Guam has been put on notice and similar threats made since 2013 led to the USA military permanently deploying a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) interceptor system on the tiny island.

The American military presence on Guam consists of two bases: Andersen Air Force Base in the north and Naval Base Guam in the south. It did so to compensate for USA forces diverted from other bases in the Asia-Pacific region to fight in the Middle East. If carried out, it would be the North's most provocative missile launch to date. For years, North Korea has claimed Guam is within its missiles' striking distance, making furious statements each time when the US flew powerful bombers from the island's air base to the Korean Peninsula.

Guam is armed with the U.S. Army's defense system known as Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, which can intercept missiles.

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Baumgartner, a supervisor at a high-end clothing store, said she was confident US forces on the island's two bases were ready to intervene, and she bore no grudges about that military presence making Guam a North Korean target. The air base was built in 1944, when the US was preparing to send bombers to Japan during World War II.

The U.S. took control of Guam in 1898, when Spanish authorities surrendered to the U.S. Navy. Residents do not pay USA income taxes or vote in the general election for US president.

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. Guam was also a refueling and transfer spot for military personnel heading to Southeast Asia.

The tweet follows days of rising tensions between the U.S. and North Korea, with Trump warning to rain down "fire and fury" if North Korea continued a series of nuclear and missile technology tests. The North said the plan, which involves the missiles hitting waters 19 to 25 miles (30 to 40 kilometres) from the island, could be sent to leader Kim Jong Un for approval within a week or so. Many refugees fleeing Vietnam were evacuated through Guam.

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