United States missile shield not certain to protect Guam from North Korea

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A North Korea military spokesman said Wednesday the country would strike Guam, which is home to more than 7,000 military members and their families, if the United States provokes North Korea, according to North Korean state media.

Three-hundred-fifty airmen from the 28th Bomb Wing at Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota are among military personnel on Guam, the tiny Pacific island that's been the focus of recent global attention with escalating tensions between the US and North Korea.

Seoul's Joint Chiefs of Staff also criticized Pyongyang, saying its ongoing series of inflammatory statements pose a critical challenge to the South Korean people and the alliance. United States and South Korean troops just across the Chinese border is a prospect that Beijing does not want to have to face - and that's what war would bring.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a press conference, "We can not tolerate such a clear provocative act to the security of the region and global society, including our country", urging Pyongyang to exercise restraint.

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But Bruce Bennett, a senior defense analyst at the Rand Corporation, told CNN it would ultimately be U.S. President Donald Trump's decision whether to test their missile defenses.

Still, South Korea - the U.S. ally with the most to lose from a confrontation with the North - does not appear to be too concerned. "And even people who make cell phones, who have substantially more testing than THAAD does, sometimes have cell phones burn up", he said.

Its proximity to China, Japan, the Philippines and the Korean Peninsula has long made the island an essential position for the USA military.

It's created to destroy ballistic missiles during their final phase of flight.

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There are two major bases on Guam: Andersen Air Force Base in the north and Naval Base Guam in the south. Guam officially became a USA territory in 1950 and was put under the administration of the Department of the Navy.

Guam is a tiny island in the Western Pacific Ocean.

Tensions between the two countries have risen markedly in the last few days after North Korea warned the USA of a "severe lesson" following United Nations action against it. President Donald Trump, in turn, warned any threats to the U.S. from North Korea would be met with "fire and fury".

"As far as I'm concerned, as an American citizen, I want a president that says that if any nation such as North Korea attacks Guam...that they will be met with hell and fury", Calvo declared.

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If any of the four long-range missiles successfully made it through USA defense, Mount said, it would be a huge victory for the rogue state.

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