How to survive a nuclear attack, explained by Guam officials

Posted August 13, 2017

North Korea has announced a detailed plan to launch a salvo of ballistic missiles toward the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam, a major military hub and home to U.S. bombers.

North Korea says it is in the final stages of preparing a plan to launch four intermediate-range ballistic missiles over Japan and into waters off the tiny island of Guam, where about 7,000 USA troops are based and 160,000 US civilians live.

The small US island, which has been caught in the middle of an explosive war of words between President Donald Trump and North Korea, advises its citizens on how to survive an "imminent" missile attack from nuclear-armed Pyongyang. Its military officials intend for them to land a little outside the 14-mile mark that is accepted as the limit of territorial waters, North Korean state media said, subject to Kim Jong-un's agreement.

But the Guam Daily Post said in an editorial that although the island's residents were used to North Korea's threats, the situation was more precarious today because "a feisty, not-so-cool-headed commander-in-chief lives in the White House now". The tiny island is home to major United States air and naval facilities. After the attack, which North Korea has said it would take less than 18 minutes to reach the island, authorities advise Gambians to steer clear of areas marked "radiation hazard" or "HAZMAT" as well as all damaged areas.

Spain claimed Guam in 1565, more than 40 years after Ferdinand Magellan landed on the island.

USA and Japanese troops began a joint exercise on the Japanese island of Hokkaido on Thursday.

Guam is about 2,100 miles (3,380 kilometers) southeast of Pyongyang and 3,800 miles (6,115 kilometers) west of Honolulu in the Pacific Ocean.

Guam, a 210-square-mile island, is a USA territory in the Pacific Ocean.

North Korean state media has reported that the country is considering plans to strike Guam this month.

30 2016 people make their way along a track leading to houses on the outskirts of Kaesong.  AFP  Ed JONES
Houses on the outskirts of Kaesong North Korea

The U.S. set up the Naval Station in Guam in 1899, designating the whole island as a base.

The naval base dates to 1898, when the USA took over Guam from Spain after the Spanish-American War.

Padilla expressed confidence that there "is still a lot of room for dialogue" to thwart North Korea's plan, citing the presence of Pyongyang's foreign minister at the Asean meeting in Manila last week as a "positive sign".

For decades, Guam has been a critical asset for the US military, housing 6,000 troops and strategic bombers capable of carrying nuclear weapons.

The U.S. took control of Guam in 1898, when Spanish authorities surrendered to the U.S. Navy. US military options range from nothing to a full-on conventional assault by air, sea and ground forces. However, Guamanians are still not allowed to vote in the USA presidential election.

Because Guam is a US territory, the USA military may launch forces from there without worrying about upsetting a host nation that may object to US actions.

Resident Isaac Camacho, 19, says he feels Guam's relationship with the USA mainland is "a little misunderstood on their part".

The official languages of Guam are English and Chamorro, which means 'noble.' It's a Malayo-Polynesian language that has incorporated Spanish words over time.

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