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Guam's Governor Talks to VOA About North Korean Threat

Guam Governor Eddie Calvo speaks during an interview at the government complex on the island of Guam, a U.S. Pacific Territory, Aug. 10, 2017.
Guam Governor Eddie Calvo speaks during an interview at the government complex on the island of Guam, a U.S. Pacific Territory, Aug. 10, 2017.

Guam’s governor says his Pacific island is concerned but not in a panic in the face of new threats by North Korea to launch ballistic missiles toward the U.S. territory located about 3,400 kilometers from Pyongyang.

Speaking to VOA, Eddie Calvo says that at the same time he feels the island is adequately protected and that people should go on with their daily lives.

“Our civil administration together with our local Joint Region Marianas in the military command, and also in discussions with Washington, with the White House and NSA [National Security Agency], we feel very confident in the ability [of the U.S. government] to protect the island of Guam. So with that, it’s important to get reassured for the people of Guam that they … conduct business everyday as if it is any other normal day,” Calvo says.

North Korea, following international condemnation of its testing of two intercontinental ballistic missiles in July and harsher sanctions against Pyongyang imposed less than a week ago by the U.N. Security Council, has taken a more saber-rattling tone towards the U.S., saying that it plans to launch missiles toward Guam by mid-August.

Guam: Small But Important Piece of US Territory in the Pacific
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Governor Calvo, who says that Guam has been threatened by Pyongyang several times since 2013 and that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un today is not moving “in the right direction,” hopes that conflict can still be avoided as the costs would be very high.

“If a war were to occur in this region, not only would tens of thousands American soldiers, troops, airmen and sailors and the dependents be in harm’s way but hundreds of thousands of American citizens in sovereign U.S. soil in the Western Pacific,” Calvo says.

Asked what type of response to the crisis he expects from President Donald Trump, Calvo says he hopes it would be a forceful one.

“If Guam or Honolulu or Los Angeles is threatened with an attack, it is my hope that a U.S. president will be very clear in his message to potential adversaries that there will be overwhelming force.”

But Calvo says that collective security also needs to be taken into account.

“Aside from the United States, I think, Japan and South Korea will also, if [North Korea] continues this way, will move into the direction we believe that is important for their safety and security as well.”

He says that China’s “vested interests” should also be taken into consideration.

But Calvo adds that he and the people of Guam are still holding out for a peaceful solution.

“We are hopeful that the decisions moving forward, that cool heads will prevail and we will not see any increase in terms of tension and ultimately hostilities.”

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    The Voice of America provides news and information in more than 40 languages to an estimated weekly audience of over 326 million people. Stories with the VOA News byline are the work of multiple VOA journalists and may contain information from wire service reports.