Guam confident in the US’s ability to protect it from a belligerent North Korea
Guam’s Governor says he has been assured that the territory and other United States territories are protected.
North Korea has repeated threats this week to target United States military bases in Hawaii, Guam, and the mainland.
Megan Whelan reports:
North Korea’s High Command said it was placing its long range artillery and strategic rocket forces on high alert.
Military tensions on the Korean peninsula are at their highest in years, with Pyongyang expressing anger at the use of US bombers and submarines in ongoing joint military drills with South Korea.
Guam is one of the closest US bases to the peninsula.
A Pentagon spokesperson, George Little, says Washington is ready to
respond to any contingency.
He says the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, or DPRK, is damaging its own interests by behaving this way.
“The DPRK will achieve nothing by these threats or provocations, which will only further isolate North Korea, and undermine international efforts to ensure peace and stability in north-east Asia.”
A senator in Guam, Brant McCreadie, says local people need information from the government on how best to protect themselves in case of an attack by North Korea.
Senator McCreadie says people are concerned and he says the government should be proactive and disseminate information such as where to go in case of an attack and how schools should react.
“If there is a plan I’m just saying now would be a time to disseminate the information and the plan and if there’s not a plan then now would be the time to convene an advisory council to address this issue of readiness.”
Guam’s governor, Eddie Calvo, says threats out of North Korea aren’t anything new, but they are worrying.
“Obviously, whenever you have a madman making statements, and I hate to say madman, but obviously he has made some very strong statements, especially that he commands a dictatorial authority over a nation such as North Korea, it does bring some concern. But with those concerns, you have to tamper those concerns down with the history of North Korea.”
Eddie Calvo says he is confident in the ability of the US and its allies to protect Guam.
“But with that concern also is the comfort of knowing that we are under the defence umbrella of the most powerful nation in the world, it is allied with very powerful nations such as Japan and South Korea, that each have their defensive armament systems.”
Eddie Calvo says he has asked Guam’s officials to review and update contingency plans.
He says those plans will be made available to the public in due course.
The head of the strategic and defence studies centre at the Australian National University, Brendan Taylor, says as the US reduces its military presence in Japan and South Korea, Guam is becoming more important.
“The United States has looked to shift a number of those troops to Guam, and that has certainly heightened the strategic significance of Guam in recent years. So certainly residents on Guam will have reason over the coming years to be more worried about a variety of potential threats, but certainly the gravest of those, I stil would very much doubt that it will come from North Korea.”
Brendan Taylor says North Korea’s missile programme is improving, and if it continues on its current trajectory could strike the US successfully within several years.