Nuclear war between USA and North Korea 'unlikely but risk rising'

A look across the Yalu river from the border city of Dandong

A look across the Yalu river from the border city of Dandong

The U.S. has two strategically significant bases on Guam, Andersen Air Force Base in the north and Naval Base Guam in the south.

Trump warned on Tuesday that if Pyongyang does not stop threatening the USA, it "will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen".

President Donald Trump issued a new threat to North Korea on Friday, saying the US military was "locked and loaded" as Pyongyang accused him of driving the Korean peninsula to the brink of nuclear war and world powers expressed alarm.

Itsunori Onodera told Japan's parliament, or Diet, that a North Korean attack against Guam would be considered an existential threat to the country and give Japan the right to activate its Aegis destroyer missile defense system.

On a tiny island in the western Pacific, about 7,000 USA military personnel and their families are in the middle of the increasingly tense confrontation with North Korea.

The possibility of escalation is made even more acute by the lack of any means of official communication across the Demilitarized Zone, though there has been no easing of the barrage of inflammatory comments in the US and the North since new sanctions against North Korea were announced last week.

The territory has struggled economically and is known to investors for its municipal bonds, which have so far been relatively unaffected by the saber rattling between Trump and Kim.

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"North Korea has a good fight on their hands if they're going to try to mess with Guam", said resident Andrea Salas.

Its importance has declined since the Second World War, given the creation of military bases in Japan and South Korea, says Carl Schuster, a Hawaii Pacific University professor and former director of operations at the US Pacific Command's Joint Intelligence Center.

The base is one of two on the Pacific island, which are the closest bases on USA soil to North Korea, and represent the westernmost tip of the country's military might.

"China should also make clear if North Korea launches missiles that threaten USA soil first and the United States retaliates, China will stay neutral", the article said.

The local government of this tiny US Pacific island issued preparation guidance to its 163,000 people on Friday on how best to hide and deal with radiation after threats by Pyongyang to strike Guam, or test its missiles in its surrounding waters.

North Korea has threatened Guam in the past.

Residents of the tiny territory - just 12 miles at its widest point and circled with attractive beaches - find themselves again caught in the middle of a war of words as a volley of hostile rhetoric was launched between North Korea and the United States, including pointed threats of nuclear action. Meanwhile, Russia, China and Germany voiced dismay at the escalating rhetoric from Pyongyang and Washington. In the past year, the country has conducted two nuclear tests and fired more than 20 missiles, compared to 16 missile launches in the entire 18 years under the rule of his father, Kim Jong Il.

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Chinese government-backed scholars said Beijing is deeply concerned about the latest statements from Trump and North Korea.

Instead, it has been testing missiles at an unprecedented pace and threatening to launch some of those toward Guam. Russian Federation and China have both urged the halt the sea exercises.

Amid the heated words, South Koreans are buying more ready-to-eat meals that could be used in an emergency and the government is planning to expand nationwide civil defence drills planned for on August 23. Hundreds of thousands of troops and huge arsenals are arrayed on both sides of the tense demilitarized zone between the two Koreas. "It's a propaganda, that's how I feel", he said but added that the military offered an extra reassurance.

US forces on the island were not immediately available for comment. Since the end of the Spanish-American War in 1898, the largest and southernmost island in the Mariana Islands archipelago has been an essential part of US power projection.

Trump said hours later, "Let her speak for Germany".

Mr. Cronin said Mr. Trump's harsh words were created to "signal a resolve to demonstrate that deterrence holds and that we have the capability to neutralize Kim should he attack". Trump on Thursday again urged China to do more to resolve the situation.

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