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[Pacific Daily News] Guam safety questioned in light of N. Korea threat

Mar 19, 2013

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Written by Armando Cordoba/ Pacific Daily News

Amid the growing tension between the United States and North Korea, government officials on Guam are calling for action from Washington, D.C., to ensure the island’s safety.

Sen. Frank Aguon Jr. and Gov. Eddie Calvo sent letters to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel this weekend, asking him about the risk to Guam from a potential North Korean missile attack, and to also look into the possibility of installing missile interceptor sites on the island to mitigate against such dangers.

The letters were sent after North Korea threatened a preemptive nuclear strike against the U.S. earlier this month, which prompted the Obama administration to announce the installation of 14 new interceptor locations at Fort Greely in Alaska.

“Can you tell us if there are interceptors in this area? If not, are there other missile defenses available on Guam or in other parts of Asia that will protect our island?” Calvo asked.

Calvo and Aguon want Hagel to allay the public’s concerns and for Washington, D.C., to solidify Guam’s importance as a strategic military location in light of recent North Korean threats.

“Such an installation would protect vital American military interests in the Pacific region, but also, and more importantly, would help assuage any anxieties our community may have,” Aguon said.

Guam’s location is part of the U.S. military platform in the Asia-Pacific region.

It’s also the closest U.S. territory to North Korea.

Guam Delegate Madeleine Bordallo said she’s been assured that Guam is protected.

“I am aware that (Department of Defense) officials are confident that the ground-based, mid-course defense system will provide protection not only for the continental United States, but Guam as well.”

Bordallo assured that she would continue to work with the Obama administration to strengthen the U.S.’s defense system and protect territories such as Guam from potential threats and attacks.

Dee Cruz, acting public information officer for Guam Homeland Security, said she is confident that Guam is safe under current defense strategies in the Pacific.

There are U.S. military ships home-ported in Hawaii and Japan with missile-interceptor capability, Cruz said.

 

National concerns

North Korea’s threat to attack U.S. soil came just before the U.N. unanimously passed sanctions which set out to effectively squelch its capability of financing research into nuclear technology.

Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, during a visit to Seoul, sent a message to both Koreas: warning Pyongyang over recent threats and reassuring South Korea that military backing won’t be hurt by a U.S. budget debate, according to The Associated Press.

Carter told reporters Monday that Pyongyang’s threats would only deepen Washington’s defense commitment to Seoul. He said that includes a “nuclear umbrella” security guarantee for Seoul, which doesn’t have atomic weapons.

 

Failed test

In June 2006, the Associated Press wrote an article marking an agreement between Japan and the U.S. to deploy advanced Patriot interceptor missiles on U.S. bases in Japan for the first time, in response to North Korean test fires of long-range ballistic missiles.

A mock enemy warhead was launched successfully from Kodiak, Alaska, but the interceptor failed to get off the ground from its launch site in the Marshall Islands, according to the Washington Post. The mock warhead crashed into a northwest area near Wake Island, which is about 1,506 miles from Guam.

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