NORTH Korea said on Wednesday, August 30, that its test launch of a missile over Japan was a prelude to future military actions towards the American territory of Guam. President Donald Trump said talking is not an option.
On Wednesday morning, Trump tweeted, “The U.S. has been talking to North Korea, and paying them extortion money, for 25 years. Talking is not the answer.”
The test was an alarming move as North Korea had already threatened to fire four missiles near Guam earlier this month — on August 8, Trump threatened to unleash “fire and fury” on the hermit kingdom.
A statement by North Korea’s KCNA described the missile launch on Tuesday, Aug. 29, as “the first step of the military operation in the Pacific and a meaningful prelude to containing Guam.”
The statement further described Guam as an “advanced base of invasion” and said North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un plans on “conducting more ballistic rocket launching drills with the Pacific as a target in the future.”
The intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) that flew over the island of Hokkaido in Japan and into the north Pacific Ocean, was said to be a Hwasong-12, the same missile Kim had threatened to use on Guam.
Despite U.N. sanctions, North Korea has conducted many ballistic missile tests. Tuesday’s launch was the 14th this year.
Responses to the launch
In a statement on Tuesday, Trump said, ”Threatening and destabilizing actions only increase the North Korean regime’s isolation in the region and among the nations of the world. All options are on the table.”
Trump’s Wednesday morning tweet suggested that talking may not be an option, but in a meeting that same day with South Korea’s defense minister, U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon that they are “never out of diplomatic solutions.”
The United Nations Security Council also condemned the firing on Tuesday and demanded Pyongyang end all missile tests, calling the launch an “outrageous” threat. Earlier this month, the Security Council unanimously imposed sanctions on North Korea after the country staged two long-range missile launches in July.
Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called the launch over Hokkaido, “an unprecedented, serious, and grave threat to Japan.” North Korean missiles have flown twice over Japan since 1998, but the latest was supposedly the first with ability of carrying a nuclear weapon. Citizens were urged to “evacuate to sturdy building or basement.”
Closest in proximity is South Korea who reportedly responded to the launch by dropping eight 2,000 pound MK 84 bombs over a simulated target at Taebaek Pilsung Firing Range, a South Korean training ground. Presidential spokesman Yoon Young-chan said at a press conference that South Korean President Moon Jae-in wanted “to showcase a strong punishment capability against the North.”
According to the U.S. Missile Defense Agency, a test intercept of a medium range ballistic missile was conducted off the coast of Hawaii early Wednesday.
Guam as target
As one of the closest American territories to Asia, and the closest to North Korea, Guam has long been a North Korean target in regards to U.S. conflicts — a threat made prior to the latest launch was in 2013.
The island is home to two strategically important bases: the Andersen Air Force Base in the north, and the Naval Base Guam in the south. The territory was ceded to the U.S. in 1898 by Spain, and has been under the U.S. continuously since 1944, after being captured by the Japanese in 1941.
The population is over 160,000 with the number of U.S. troops said to be 7,000. Filipinos are the second highest ethnic group at 26.3 percent of the population — native Chamorros being the highest at 37.3 percent.
Respectively, Filipino languages are the second most spoken at 21.2 percent, following English at 43.6 percent according to the CIA World Factbook.
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