While the North Korean military claims to be in the final stages of planning to fire four long-range ballistic missiles toward the U.S. territory of Guam, Chinese President Xi Jinping has relied on his nation’s consistent talking points regarding the issue: urging both nations to “avoid words or actions” that could serve to further escalate tensions.
“Concerned parties must exercise restraint and avoid remarks and actions that escalate tensions on the Korean peninsula,” China’s Foreign Ministry said in an official statement.
President Donald Trump earned the support of some and the ire of others when he chose to address North Korea directly in statements and Tweets that seemed closer in tone to North Korea’s method of issuing threats, using words like “fire and fury” to describe the kind of destruction the United States is prepared to subject the aggressive regime to.
“If he utters one threat … or if he does anything with respect to Guam or any place else that’s an American territory or an American ally, he will truly regret it, and he will regret it fast.” President Trump said while vacationing in his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf resort this week.
Despite this shift in tone, the President did make sure to emphasize that, although the U.S.’s military response is “locked and loaded,” war is still not his preferred option, saying “nobody loves a peaceful solution better than President Trump.”
On Friday, Trump spoke with China’s President Xi about the issue, and although many have accused China of doing too little in the effort to denuclearize their ally, North Korea, rhetoric coming from the White House regarding the economic powerhouse nation remains cordial.
“President Trump and President Xi agreed North Korea must stop its provocative and escalatory behavior,” the White House statement said, adding that the “relationship between the two presidents is an extremely close one, and will hopefully lead to a peaceful resolution of the North Korea problem.”
For the more than 160,000 residents of Guam, as well as the 7,000 U.S. troops stationed in Guam, the threat of nuclear destruction is, unfortunately, very real. A U.S. Intelligence report recently confirmed that it is now believed Kim Jong Un possesses the capability to miniaturize nuclear devices sufficiently to be carried on ballistic missiles, and although the most recent North Korean ICBM test seemed to indicate a failure of the missile’s re-entry vehicle, Guam is well within the missile’s estimated range.
U.S. military personnel began posting emergency guidelines around the island on Friday, intended to help residents prepare for the possibility of nuclear attack, while President Trump has assured Guam’s Governor, Eddie Baza Calvo, that the U.S. won’t let anything happen to its territory.
“We are with you a thousand percent. You are safe,” Trump told Calvo in a video released by the Governor on Facebook.
If North Korea were to attempt to target the island of Guam with their ballistic missiles, it is likely that they could reach their target if permitted, but the combination of THAAD launchers located in South Korea, and the Aegis Missile Defense system employed by the United States and Japanese Navies, would likely be able to intercept and destroy any missile well before it could reach landfall. However, we have yet to see these systems actively engage an enemy missile in the Pacific to know for sure that they could succeed. Despite their past successes, the United States and its allies likely don’t want to have to put their anti-missile systems to the real test unless they have to.
Image courtesy of AP. Watch Room staff monitor news and updates and coordinate with agencies on local in an event of emergency Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017 as Guam Homeland Security opens its 24-hour Watch Room operation in response to the threats from North Korea, in Hagatna, Guam. Guam officials are disseminating fact sheets to help residents prepare for a possible missile attack from North Korea. Guam’s Office of Civil Defense began distributing the guidance Friday, which includes tips on building an emergency supply kit, advice on staying put in concrete structures and reminders about keeping calm. (AP Photo/Tassanee Vejpongsa)