North Korean dictator Kim Jung-un has called for more missile launches targeting the Pacific Ocean, which is pretty hard to miss over there.
Kim expressed “great satisfaction” over the success of his military’s recent missile launches, not all of which were actually successes, and said they form “a meaningful prelude” to containing the expansionist American territory of Guam, according to the Associated Press.
A little more than 162,000 people live on the 210-square-mile island about 4,000 miles west of Hawaii and always a day ahead of the U.S. mainland.
The island has assumed a much more prominent spot in the mind of Asians than Americans. It was a major stop for the galleons of Spain, which ceded the territory to the U.S. in 1898. The Japanese captured it just hours after Pearl Harbor.
More than 120,000 refugees were housed in a tent city there for processing at the end of the Vietnam War. Since its 1944 liberation, Guam has been a major combined Navy and Air Force facility.
It has a submarine base at one end, which is the last and first thing nuclear sub crews see of the surface on their 90-day undersea patrols. At the other end is Andersen Air Force Base, along with some THAAD anti-missile defense batteries and more recently B-2 bombers sent to fly threateningly close to North Korea.
During the Vietnam War Russia stationed boats with an unusual number of antennas for fishing trawlers off of Guam to radio alerts to Hanoi whenever B-52’s took off bound for the North.
As the closest U.S. land, Guam is of particular annoyance to Kim, who’s threatened to launch a ring of fire around the island that sits only 2,150 miles from North Korea. President Trump has threatened to retaliate with fire and fury.
North Korea’s ICBM launch Tuesday, likely its longest ever at some 1,700 miles, flew over the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido with a maximum altitude of 341 miles. And other trio of launches came on Saturday.
It was presumed retaliation for ongoing joint U.S.-South Korea military exercises. But clearly it also involves testing new equipment, such as lighter-weight missile shielding. The government said it was a Hwasong-12 missile, first tested last spring and the type Kim has threatened to throw at Guam.
The launch came after the United Nations imposed its toughest-ever sanctions on the North.
South Korean intelligence sources said the most recent launch came from an unusual location, the international airport at the capital of Pyongyang. A mobile ICBM launcher would make any Western retaliatory or pre-emptive strike much more difficult.