HAGATNA, Guam – North Korea has announced a detailed plan to launch a salvo of ballistic missiles toward the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam, a major military hub and home to U.S. bombers. If carried out, it would be the North’s most provocative missile launch to date.
Here’s a closer look at Guam and its role in the U.S. and North Korea’s ongoing war of words.
North Korea warned that they are finalizing a plan to fire four Hwasong-12 missiles over Japan and into waters around Guam. Japan and South Korea vowed a strong reaction if the North were to go through with the plan. The North said the plan, which involves the missiles hitting waters 19 to 25 miles (30 to 40 kilometers) from the island, could be sent to leader Kim Jong Un for approval within a week or so. It would be up to Kim whether the move is actually carried out.
President Donald Trump responded that perhaps his ‘fire and fury’ warning “wasn’t tough enough.” North Korea “better get their act together or they are going to be in trouble like few nations have ever been in trouble,” the president told reporters while on vacation at his New Jersey golf club before a security briefing with top advisers.
The strip of land in the western Pacific Ocean is roughly the size of Chicago, and just 4 miles (6 km) wide at its narrowest point. It is about 2,200 miles (3,500 km) southeast of North Korea, much closer than it is to any of the United States. Hawaii is about 4,000 miles (6,500 km) to the east. Its proximity to China, Japan, the Philippines and the Korean Peninsula has long made the island an essential possession of the U.S. military.