Guam 'well-equipped' to handle North Korean threat: governor

Michael Gerson

The small USA territory of Guam has become a focal point after North Korea's army threatened to use ballistic missiles to create an "enveloping fire" around the island.

Pyongyang stepped up its bellicose rhetoric this week, threatening to target waters off Guam with intermediate range missiles.

Regional tensions are mounting as Washington and Pyongyang ratchet up their war of words, with President Donald Trump warning Pyongyang would "truly regret" any hostile action against the US.

Calvo responded by saying he feels safe and confident with Trump's leadership: "I'm glad you're holding the helm, sir".

He said now was the time to rally behind the U.S. commander-in-chief in order to protect proud citizens living in USA territories.

The Asian country warned that it is preparing to fire four missiles over Japan and into the waters around Guam - where some 7,000 USA military personnel reside among the island's population of 160,000 American citizens.

Called Ulchi-Freedom Guardian, the exercises are expected to run August 21-31 and involve tens of thousands of American and South Korean troops on the ground and in the sea and air.

Trump declined to say whether the U.S.is considering a pre-emptive military strike as he spoke to reporters before a briefing with his top national security advisers. -South Korea drills begin.

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Officials haven't raised the USA territory's threat level even after Pyongyang laid out plans to strike near the island in the coming weeks, Guam Gov. Eddie Calvo said.

"North Korea has always threatened other countries".

Tension in the region rose when North Korea staged two nuclear bomb tests previous year and increased further when it launched two intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) tests in July in defiance of world powers.

North Korea's Minju Joson newspaper, meanwhile, lashed back at the U.S.in an editorial Saturday. They threatened US, other countries, and they threaten Guam.

Naval Base Guam is an important outpost for USA fast-attack nuclear powered submarines that are a key means for gathering intelligence in the region, including off the Korean peninsula and in the South China Sea where China has been building military bases on man-made islands that have stirred tension across Asia.

"It's just like setting off fireworks because most of their guided missiles just crash midway through flight", she said.

U.S. officials have said new steps that would target Chinese banks and firms doing business with Pyongyang are in the works, but these have appeared to be put on hold to give Beijing time to show it is serious about enforcing new United Nations sanctions. "So I think it's important to be very strong".

"We are with you a thousand percent", Mr Trump said, according to video of the call posted on Mr Calvo's Facebook page. "Perhaps she is referring to Germany".