U.S. would prob­a­bly shield Guam against any mis­siles

N. Korea is un­der sur­veil­lance, giv­ing mil­i­tary re­sponse time

USA TODAY US Edition - - NEWS - Jim Michaels

If North Korea fol­lowed through on its threat to fire bal­lis­tic mis­siles near Guam, the U.S. mil­i­tary prob­a­bly would try to shoot them down, rais­ing the stakes even fur­ther in a dan­ger­ous global stand­off.

U.S. com­man­ders would have lit­tle time to make a crit­i­cal de­ci­sion about whether any in­bound mis­siles rep­re­sented a threat to Guam, home to two large mil­i­tary bases and about 7,000 U.S. ser­vice mem­bers.

A bal­lis­tic mis­sile would take only about 14 min­utes to reach Guam from North Korea, ac­cord­ing to Guam’s Home­land Se­cu­rity of­fice.

North Korea is un­der U.S. sur­veil­lance, in­clud­ing spy satel­lites, which would give U.S. au­thor­i­ties ad­vance warn­ing be­fore a mis­sile launch.

The Pen­tagon would prob­a­bly view any mis­siles head­ing near Guam as a threat and try to shoot them down, an­a­lysts said.

“We would have to take proper self-de­fense mea­sures,” said David Maxwell, a re­tired Army colonel and as­so­ciate di­rec­tor of Ge­orge­town Univer­sity’s Cen­ter for Se­cu­rity Stud­ies. “We would not want to take a chance to al­low it to hit.”

U.S. com­man­ders would not want to take a chance on whether the mis­sile car­ried a war­head or was ac­cu­rate enough to land in the wa­ter as in­tended.

North Korea said Thurs­day it was de­vel­op­ing plans to launch four medium-range bal­lis­tic mis­siles that would land 19 to 25 miles from the western Pa­cific is­land. The warn­ing came amid height­ened ten­sions be­tween the coun­tries over North Ko- rea’s nu­clear weapons pro­gram.

Pres­i­dent Trump said Tues­day the United States would re­spond to threats from North Korea with “fire and fury like the world has never seen.”

The U.S. mil­i­tary reg­u­larly tracks North Korea’s mis­sile launches but does not in­ter­cept them once it de­ter­mines they are not on a course to hit U.S. ter­ri­tory or an ally, such as Ja­pan or South Korea.

In 2013, the U.S. mil­i­tary de­ployed a mis­sile-de­fense sys­tem called Ter­mi­nal High Al­ti­tude Area De­fense, or THAAD, to Guam in re­sponse to threats by North Korea.

The sys­tem is also be­ing de­ployed in South Korea.

AP

North Korea launches an in­ter­con­ti­nen­tal bal­lis­tic mis­sile July 4. The regime has threat­ened to fire mis­siles near Guam, but ex­perts say the Pen­tagon would try to shoot them down.

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