KOREAN MISSILE TESTS RATTLE GUAM RESIDENTS

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By Valerie Lynn M. Maigue

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, July 5) – Local officials in Guam yesterday assured residents that missiles launched by North Korea do not pose any imminent danger for Guam.

According to Associated Press reports, seven missiles from North Korea were fired yesterday, including a long-range missile capable of reaching U.S. soil, but it failed after being airborne for 35 seconds. The short-range missiles fell into the Sea of Japan.

The Bush administration has said that North Korea's firing of missiles was a provocation, but it did not pose an immediate threat to the U.S., Associated Press reports state. The administration has since launched a diplomatic counter offensive to the missile launches but made it clear that its response would not involve military action.

Guam Homeland Security Adviser Frank Blas Jr. said his agency has been in communication with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security after the test firing of the missiles was confirmed.

"In their analysis and discussion, I was assured by Homeland Security that the missiles did not pose any ballistic missile threats for Guam," Blas said.

The agency said emergency plans in anticipation of man-made or natural disasters are always in place.

Just yesterday, the local Homeland Security Office and the Office of Civil Defense began their two-day Homeland Security Mobile Education. The conference, which is being held at the Hyatt Regency Guam, was an opportunity for local and military officials to discuss and develop strategies for the island to respond to terrorist threats.

"With a situation like this, we rely on the U.S. defense system and we have to be confident with the system," Blas said.

Guam Delegate Madeleine Bordallo yesterday said she's had a number of meetings with top military brass regarding the North Korean threat.

"We are on top of the issue," Bordallo said at a Rotary Club of Northern Guam luncheon yesterday at the Hyatt Regency Guam. "We all should be very, very concerned about this development. People know how close we are, and certainly they will be able to mobilize protection forces for us."

Bordallo said Guam is in contention to be the homeport of an aircraft carrier. Guam is vying for the carrier against Hawaii.

"Maybe with these new developments, they'll realize we need a great deal of protection on Guam," Bordallo said. "It's Hawai‘i and Guam, and Guam is a lot closer."

Meanwhile, some residents said officials should be more concerned about the threat that North Korea poses to the region and especially Guam.

"They should be more concerned," said 25-year-old Joshua C. Blas of Barrigada. "It's like a slap in the face -- the warning signs are there, but what it appears is that they aren't doing much to protect their own territory."

Dededo resident 36-year-old Kim Tenorio said she is worried because the island is so close to North Korea.

"They've been talking about this for quite some time now, and now we know for a fact that they've acted on it," Tenorio said. "Just because they've failed now doesn't mean we should wait for something to happen."

July 6, 2006

Pacific Daily News: www.guampdn.com

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