CNMI governor backs Trump's stance on North Korea

As North plans missile launch US S. Korea ready war games

As North plans missile launch US S. Korea ready war games

A statement from North Korea's army, translated by South Korea's Yonhap News, says North Korea is "seriously examining the plan for an enveloping strike at Guam through simultaneous fire of four Hwasong-12 intermediate-range strategic ballistic rockets in order to interdict the enemy forces on major military bases on Guam and to signal a crucial warning to the United States".

In all the North has staged five atomic tests-including three under Kim-as it seeks to develop a nuclear-tipped missile capable of hitting the continental US.

Here's a closer look at Guam and its role in the USA and North Korea's ongoing war of words.

The plan calls for sending 12 rockets over Japan to crash in the waters about 30 miles from Guam, which is 2,100 miles east of the Korean peninsula.

Trump's rhetoric toward North Korea has sparked criticism.

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Not backing down, President Donald Trump warned Kim Jong Un's government on Thursday to "get their act together" or face extraordinary trouble, and suggested his earlier threat to unleash "fire and fury" on North Korea was too mild. "North Korea's provocative actions, including this time, are obviously provocative to the region including Japan as well as to the security of the global community", Yoshihide Suga, Japan's chief government spokesman, told reporters.

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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. That is close to half the distance between Guam and Hawaii, which sits about 3,960 miles away. 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 USA troops.

The naval base dates to 1898, when the USA took over Guam from Spain after the Spanish-American War.

These names are familiar as critical battlefields in World War II which helped turn the tide of the war and ensure American victory in the Pacific. It has limited self-government, with a popularly elected governor, small legislature, and non-voting delegate in the U.S. House of Representatives. President William McKinley ordered Guam to be ruled by the U.S. Navy.

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During the Vietnam War, the Air Force sent 155 B-52 bombers to Andersen to hit targets in Southeast Asia. The military plans to move thousands of U.S. Marines to Guam from Okinawa in southern Japan. Protecting the island is the U.S. Army's Terminal High Altitude Area Defence, or THAAD, which is used to shoot down ballistic missiles.

Jonathan Pollack, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution specializing in Asia-Pacific security issues, says the USA day-to-day military capabilities in the western Pacific are "very imposing, very impressive".

The island was first populated about 4,000 years ago by the ancestors of the Chamorros, still the island's largest ethnic group.

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Guam lies about 2,100 miles (3,400 kilometers) from the Korean Peninsula, and it's extremely unlikely Kim's government would risk annihilation with a pre-emptive attack on US citizens.

About 40 percent of Guam's residents are Chamorros, the name for the native people. It has seen various popular movements pushing for greater self-government or even USA statehood, most notably a significant but failed effort in the 1980s to make it a commonwealth on par with Puerto Rico. Most recently, in March 2013, North Korean military officials made a statement about Andersen Air Force Base being within "striking range".

Greg Kuntz, acting public affairs director for Joint Region Marianas, said the military on island continues to maintain standard operations amid threats from North Korea.

In addition to the military presence, Guam also relies heavily on tourism to boost its economy, attracting more than 1.5 million visitors drawn to its pristine beaches and luxury resorts in 2016. Today, Naval Base Guam is the home port for four nuclear-powered fast attack submarines and two submarine tenders. USA and South Korean military officials plan to move ahead with large-scale exercises later this month that North Korea, now finalizing plans to launch a salvo of missiles toward Guam, claims are a rehearsal for war.

A key U.S. military stronghold, Guam was the departure point for US B-52 bombers that attacked Hanoi during the 1955-1975 Vietnam war.

And U.S. officials insisted no significant number of troops, ships, aircraft or other assets were being directed to the region, beyond any that had been previously scheduled. The rotations also came as North Korea increasingly upped the ante in the standoff over its development of nuclear weapons.

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. Another option is Aegis Ashore, a naval tracking and missile defense system that has been converted to a land defense battery.

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