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Guam residents on Wednesday woke up to media reports about North Korea’s renewed threats to attack the island, but residents remained calm.
“This is no time to panic; there is no change in the security situation on Guam,” Governor Eddie Calvo said, downplaying the threats as “either bellicose statements or some unsubstantiated media reports.”
The governor said he has been in communication with the White House, the Department of Homeland Security and the Joint Region Marianas Command.
“I want to reassure the people of Guam that currently there is no threat to our island or the Marianas. I spoke to Joint Region Marianas Commander Rear Adm. Shoshana Chatfield who confirmed this with me,” the governor said.
“I want to ensure that we are prepared for any eventuality. I will be convening the Unified Coordination Group, which includes myself and the rear admiral, to discuss the state of readiness of our military and our local first responders.”
On Tuesday, President Donald Trump threatened North Korea with “fire and fury” over its nuclear ambitions. Pyongyang responded with a fresh threat to launch missile strikes on Guam.
“There is .0000001 percent chance of a North Korean missile hitting Guam,” said George Charfauros, the governor’s homeland security advisor.
Charfauros said the U.S. military is adequately equipped to keep Guam protected. At this point, he said, “the perceived threat is just that.”
At a press conference in Adelup, Calvo and Charfauros said Guam has contingency plans, in coordination with federal partners, to keep residents safe in case of any attack.
Calvo said the Guam community is prepared to deal with any manmade or natural disasters. “Everyone knows how to prepare for any catastrophe,” he said.
In a press statement, Madeleine Bordallo, Guam’s delegate to Congress, said North Korea’s nuclear capabilities are “deeply troubling,” but she expressed confidence that the island remains safe and protected.
“President Trump must work in partnership with the international community to de-escalate the growing tensions in the region and prevent North Korea from advancing its nuclear program further,” Bordallo said. “While the recent sanctions imposed by the U.N. Security Council were an effort to demonstrate to Kim Jong-Un that his actions will not go unanswered, President Trump must show steady leadership as these sanctions are carried out.”
Sen. Frank Aguon said the U.S. military is capable of defending Guam’s interest against any threat in the region. “Readiness is the key here — it is basically the military’s ability to fight and win wars. Are we ready to defend and protect the people of Guam from any threat in the region? We are ready,” he said.
Stores and gas stations operate normally, with no signs of panic-buying of emergency supplies. Residents go about their business in a normal fashion.
“I’m here to buy school supplies since schools just opened. I don’t feel the need to stock up on emergency supplies. I’ve heard (those threats) many times before,” said Triya Cruz, a resident of Yigo.
“If it’s going to happen it’s going to happen. Let’s just pray and make the most of what we have now. Scary, yes, but what can we do? We live on a small island. There’s really nowhere to hide if the attack were to happen,” said Loiue Joyce of Mangilao.
In the CNMI, Governor Ralph Torres said the CNMI government continues to monitor threats from North Korea, but he was assured by Rear Adm. Shoshana Chatfield that there is no imminent threat to the Mariana Islands.
“We will continue to provide updates to the community from both the Department of Defense and our brothers and sisters from Guam as this situation develops,” Torres said.
Also on Wednesday, Governor Torres signed Executive Directive 2017-3, which creates the Nuclear Threat Working Group that will coordinate with regional and federal partners to update the All Hazards Response Program and address any potential nuclear threats to the Northern Marianas.
“My administration has been working on this directive since the first reports of nuclear threats came out. The escalation in threats has prompted us to push this out in a more expedited manner. This working group will be under the direction of the Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management and consist of representatives from the Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services, the Department of Public Safety, the Department of Public Health under the Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation, the Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality, and the governor’s authorized representative. They will also establish plans and procedures to promptly communicate information regarding nuclear threats to the general public,” Governor Torres said.
He said despite the recent threats in the region, “I ask our community to remain calm and to continue going about their daily activities. I will remain in close contact with our military officials, the federal government, and our local emergency first responders. We will continue to prepare for anything, and we will continue to keep our loved ones in Guam in our thoughts.”
SOURCE" MARIANAS VARIETY/PACNEWS
Pacific Islands News Association
Who & What is PINA?
International News Safety Institute (INSI)
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