Why is Pyongyang threatening Guam?


Pyongyang on Tuesday threatened to fire a ballistic missile at Guam after President Trump warned the rogue regime that his administration would not put up with hostile language for much longer.

“North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States” or “they will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen,” Mr. Trump told reporters in New Jersey.

Citing military officials, the Korean Central News Agency promptly responded that North Korea was “carefully examining the operational plan for making an enveloping fire at the areas around Guam with medium-to-long-range strategic ballistic rocket Hwasong-12.” But why would Pyongyang target Guam?

Guam has been a U.S. territory since the island was recaptured from the Japanese in 1944. Located some 4,000 miles from Hawaii, it is only 2,100 miles from Pyongyang. Guam, which possesses a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system capable of intercepting ballistic missiles, is therefore within range of North Korea’s medium- and long-range weapons.

On Monday, two B-1B bombers stationed on the island took part in a series of joint exercises with Japan and South Korea over the Korean peninsula. On Tuesday, the strategic bombers joined South Korean fighter jets in a similar show of force. The presence of nuclear-capable bombers on Guam “get on the nerves of DPRK and threaten and blackmail it through their frequent visits to the sky above Korea.”

The Pacific Ocean island would be an ideal target for Pyongyang. It is home to the Andersen Air Force Base in the north, where more than 2,000 active duty service members are stationed as well as approximately 400 civilians and over 500 contractors. Naval Base Guam further south is located on Apra Harbor and boasts over 6,000 active duty Navy members.

Andersen Air Force Base is home to B-1B lancers, B-2 bombers and B-52 bombers as well as fighter jets. Los Angeles-class submarines and the submarine tender USS Frank Cable are understood to be currently based at Naval Base Guam.

Defense Secretary Spokesman Johnny Michael confirmed on Tuesday that the island was ready for any eventuality.

“We always maintain a high state of readiness and have the capabilities to counter any threat, to include those from North Korea,” he told The Washington Post.