Monday, 21 August, 2017

North Korea missile crisis seen pushing South Korea to gun up

Guam tourism : Same threat different day and Guam's beaches are busy today South Koreans say war with North Korea unlikely: 'I'm not scared'
Melinda Barton | 13 August, 2017, 15:17

Targeting waters 19 to 25 miles from the island, which hosts 7,000 US military personnel on two main bases and has a population of 160,000, the attack would be the North's most provocative missile launch to date.

The North's military chief Ri Myong Su responded saying that if the United States continued in its "reckless" behaviour, Pyongyang would "inflict the most miserable and merciless punishment upon all the provokers".

As it is, the USA has a robust military presence in the region, including six B-1 bombers in Guam and Air Force fighter jet units in South Korea, plus other assets across the Pacific Ocean and in the skies above.

Two days after North Korea laid out its plans to strike near Guam with unsettling specificity, there was no observable march toward combat.

Tourists frolic on the waters overlooking posh hotels in Tumon tourist district on the island of Guam, a U.S. Pacific Territory.

In August past year, the North's Foreign Ministry warned that all US military bases in the Pacific including Guam would "face ruin in the face of all-out and substantial attack" by the North's military. There is a USA air base there, a Navy installation and a Coast Guard group. Up to 12 nuclear-powered submarines are also available.

The Pentagon then made a decision to send two strategic B-1B bombers, which are stationed in Guam, to the outskirts of the Korean peninsula in response to the threats.

There were no signs of panic or an exodus from the island of 163,000 people on Thursday, with its wide roads clogged with commuters and commercial vehicles.

The KPA spokesman said the Minuteman ICBM test-launch and the mobilization of "nuclear strategic bombers" from Guam indicated that the US was "driving the regional situation to an extreme pitch". Most are sailors and airmen. As a result, Guam's economy relies heavily on the U.S. Armed Forces, which owns a third of the island.

Guam's total population is 160,000.

Guam is about 2,100 miles (3,380 kilometers) southeast of Pyongyang and 3,800 miles (6,115 kilometers) west of Honolulu in the Pacific Ocean.

"The U.S. might decide to put an Aegis system much closer to Guam to have two levels of defense, but that's a presidential decision", he said.

"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 island's Governor, Eddie Calvo, has offered assurances, saying the island is well-protected, including with the THAAD missile defense system, which is specifically created to shoot down ballistic missiles.

At present, Seoul is allowed to possess ballistic missiles with a range of 800 kilometres and payload of 500 kilogrammes.

According to the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency, the missile defense system, which entails a tracking radar, launcher, interceptor missiles and an integrated fire-control system, has a 14 out of 14 test intercept success rate since 2006.

The U.S. took control of Guam in 1898, when Spanish authorities surrendered to the U.S. Navy.

GOVERNOR Ralph D.L.G. Torres on Thursday expressed full trust and confidence in President Donald Trump's leadership amid mounting tensions with North Korea. The Navy used the island as a coaling base and communications station until Japan seized the island on December 10, 1941.