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Salem Radio Network News Monday, August 21, 2017

Politics

Guam’s residents concerned about North Korea but have faith in US military

HAGATNA, Guam (AP) — The tiny U.S. territory of Guam feels a strong sense of patriotism and confidence in the American military, which has an enormous presence on the Pacific island. But residents are increasingly worried over Washington’s escalating war of words with North Korea.

The people of Guam woke up Thursday to another pointed threat from Pyongyang, which vowed to complete a plan to attack waters near the island by mid-August — adding a timeline to a threat from a day earlier that North Korea would create an “enveloping fire” around Guam.

Like other U.S. territories, Guam has a sometimes complicated relationship with the U.S. mainland but many across the island say despite the threats and concerns they feel reassured and protected by the military — especially in times of tense, geopolitical sparring.

About 160,000 people live on the island, which extends about 12 miles (19.31 kilometers) at its widest. The American military presence on Guam consists of two bases — Andersen Air Force Base in the north and Naval Base Guam in the south — which are home to 7,000 U.S. troops.

“I feel that the presence of the military on Guam will help us a lot,” said Virgie Matson, 51, a resident of Dededo, Guam’s most populated village. “They are here to protect the islands, just in case something happens.”

The possibility of a nuclear confrontation is considered remote but international alarm has been escalating in recent days. In the latest development, Gen. Kim Rak Gyom, who heads North Korea’s rocket command, said in a statement carried by state media that his country was “about to take” military action near Guam. He said the North would finalize a plan by mid-August to fire four mid-range missiles hitting waters 19 to 25 miles (30 to 40 kilometers) away from the island.

It’s not the first time North Korea has threatened Guam, which is a crucial, strategic hub for U.S. forces in the Pacific.

Andersen Air Force Base houses a Navy helicopter squadron and Air Force bombers that rotate to Guam from the U.S. mainland, including the B-2 stealth bomber, B-1 and B-52. Their location in a U.S. territory means its military is just hours from potential flashpoints in the western Pacific.

Naval Base Guam is an important outpost for U.S. fast-attack nuclear powered submarines that are a key means for gathering intelligence in the region, including off the Korean peninsula and in the South China Sea where China has been building military bases on man-made islands that have stirred tension across Asia.

The U.S. military has said it plans to increase its presence on Guam and will move thousands of U.S. Marines currently stationed in Japan to the island between 2024 and 2028.

 

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump and North Korea:

Japan says it could shoot down missiles for its U.S. ally if North Korea fires them at Guam.

Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera told Thursday’s parliamentary session that a missile attack on the U.S. territory would breach the U.S. deterrence against an attack on Japan. He said that would be a Japanese national emergency because it would threaten Japan’s existence as a nation.

He said Japan in that case can exercise the right to “collective” self-defense and activate the Aegis destroyer ship-to-air missile defense system.

Onodera’s comment underscores Japan’s growing military role and reverses its previous position that it can only shoot down missiles headed to Japan.

A defense law that took effect last year allows Japan’s military to defend U.S. and other allies when they come under enemy attack.

North Korea has become the latest critic of President Donald Trump’s working vacation, accusing him of acting senile while “on the golf links.”

Gen. Kim Rak Gyom, commander of the North’s strategic rocket forces, made the insults via state media Thursday in response to Trump’s “fire and fury” threats against North Korea.

Trump made the remarks during a meeting at his New Jersey golf resort.

Kim said Trump is “extremely getting on the nerves” of his soldiers by making comments that showed his “senility” again.

Kim says “sound dialogue is not possible with such a guy bereft of reason who is going senile.”

North Korea has unleashed personal attacks on past Washington and Seoul leaders. It called former President Barack Obama a monkey and ex-South Korean President Park Geun-hye a prostitute.

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South Korea’s military says North Korea will face a “stern and strong” response from Washington and Seoul if it acts on threats to fire missiles near Guam.

Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff spokesman Roh Jae-cheon said Thursday that the U.S. and South Korean militaries are prepared to “immediately and sternly punish” any kind of provocation by North Korea, but didn’t elaborate on how the allies are preparing.

South Korea’s presidential office says top national security adviser Chung Eui-yong will chair a national security council meeting in the afternoon to discuss the North Korean threats.

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North Korea’s military says President Donald Trump’s warning of “fire and fury” if it threatens the U.S. is a “load of nonsense.”

The North is responding to Trump’s threat in a statement from its military carried by state-run news agency KCNA. The statement says that “only absolute force” can work on someone as “bereft of reason” as Trump.

The North Korean statement also says the military action its army “is about to take” will be effective for restraining America’s “frantic moves” in and near the southern part of the Korean Peninsula.

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The State Department says President Donald Trump is “on the same page” with the rest of U.S. government with his fiery threat to North Korea.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert says the White House, State Department and Pentagon are all in agreement. She says the world, too, is speaking with once voice.

Nauert says the pressure by the U.S. and others on Pyongyang “is working.”

Nauert says Secretary of State Rex Tillerson spoke to Trump for about an hour after Trump warned Tuesday of “fire and fury” if North Korea escalated its threats.

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The U.S. ambassador to the U.N.’s Conference on Disarmament says he urged North Korea to “end its threatening behavior,” drawing a retort from an envoy from the reclusive Asian country.

Ambassador Robert Wood tweeted Wednesday that North Korean “provocations came up at CD informal session” and that he urged Pyongyang to comply with U.N. Security Council demands.

The 65-member conference is currently holding working-group meetings behind closed doors, with no press allowed. Diplomats said statements about North Korea made up a small portion of the meeting devoted to broader disarmament issues.

South Korea’s delegation declined to provide its statement to The Associated Press, saying the meeting was not public. North Korea didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail seeking its right-of-reply statement by its representative, Yong Chol Ju.

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