How three recent launches signaled new leaps in North Korea's missile capabilities

Marco Green
August 12, 2017

The US and South Korea have a massive military exercise planned in late August, around when North Korea has threatened to fire missiles at Guam, the US territory in the Pacific with massive US Air Force and Navy bases.

It is important that the US does not push North Korea into a dead end so they feel they are left with no options.

Guam was claimed by Spain in 1565 and became a US territory in 1898 during the Spanish-American War.

While it is around 1,500 miles further out from the Korean peninsula than its next closest base in Japan, it's "still strategic because of its location" and its ability to host long-range bombers.

Any new military conflict with North Korea would likely escalate quickly to the use of nuclear weapons, bringing catastrophic casualties not seen since World War Two and an untold economic impact worldwide, former USA defence officials and experts say.

There are, however, political complications in launching attacks from United States bases hosted by allies closer to Pyongyang, should the U.S. retaliate to Kim's latest threats.

However, "Guam's importance is reliant on the behavior of our allies".

South Koreans are buying more gold and ready to eat meals, while the government plans to expand nation-wide civil defence drills planned for this month as rhetoric between North Korea and the USA ramps up tension.

The real danger of any preemptive USA strikes against North Korea's weapons sites would be that Pyongyang, whose conventional forces are considered no match for those of the United States and its allies, might resort to using its chemical and biological weapons and ultimately its nuclear arsenal.

One of these systems, he said, is THAAD, the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system, which is created to shoot down short, medium and intermediate ballistic missiles.

The US Department of Defense reiterated its capability to counter North Korean aggression.

"North Korea's threat has moved to a different level with the recent two successful ICBM tests".

Guam is home to U.S. Naval Base Guam and the Andersen Air Force Base.

The US planes, which are capable of carrying nuclear bombs, followed up the drills with Japan with a separate exercise with South Korean Forces, the ASDF said.

Pyongyang's initial threat to Guam came after the USA flew two B-1B bombers over the Korean peninsula on Tuesday local time. The bombers were joined by Japanese and South Korean aircraft during their mission.

In South Korea, a recently deployed THAAD missile defense system would not be able to intercept a launch toward Guam but could quickly detect the launch on its radar.

Pyongyang did not develop its nuclear capability to be the aggressor in a war with the United States, says CNN Military Analyst Rick Francona.

Carl Schuster, a Hawaii Pacific University professor and former director of operations at the US Pacific Command's Joint Intelligence Center, told CNN a single ship equipped with Aegis could probably take out two missiles. Or at least that's the rhetoric coming from Pyongyang.

For years, North Korea has claimed Guam is within its missiles' striking distance, making furious statements each time when the US flew powerful bombers from the island's air base to the Korean Peninsula.

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

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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