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NEWS: Tensions rise in Korea

By Jacob Nakamura

Guam Homeland Security is monitoring reports of increased tensions in Korea following threats by North Korea's regime to enter disarmed border areas. The threat level to Guam has not been increased at this time, according to Civil Defense administrator Charles Esteves, who added that GHS communicates with the U.S. Department of Defense on situations like these, and that the military will provide guidance if the need arises.

"Right now all we can do is to watch the situation," Mr. Esteves told Kandit News in a phone interview. "We haven't gotten any calls from PACOM or Joint Region regarding this. We haven't received any notification of any increase in force protection."

Yonhap News Agency from South Korea is reporting that North Korea's military "is reviewing plans to reenter border areas disarmed under inter-Korean agreements, days after the North threatened to take military action over the sending of leaflets by activists from South Korea."

The General Staff of the Korean People's Army (KPA), according to KNA, is considering a widescale "large-scale leaflet scattering struggle against the enemy" in South Korea "opening front-line areas and waters off the southwest coast."

"Our army is keeping a close watch on the current situation in which the north-south relations are turning worse and worse, and getting itself fully ready for providing a sure military guarantee to any external measures to be taken by the Party and government," the General Staff said in a statement carried by the Korean Central News Agency.

The threats are occurring as United States intelligence officials are trying to confirm the source of a major cyber security attack that has infiltrated the major cellular networks across the nation. Fox News and CNN are reporting issues with customers from T-Mobile, Sprint, Verizon, and AT&T.

The Harris County Texas Sheriff's office tweeted, "We were just advised there is a nationwide outage for @TMobile’s ability to make 911 calls. T-Mobile is currently working on this issue."

Mr. Esteves said GHS has not received reports from federal partners about the situation, and is unaware of how the country-wide cyber security situation affects people on Guam.

"We haven't received confirmation yet on the cause but will be monitoring," Mr. Esteves said.

Meanwhile, the Associated Press is reporting that "for the first time in nearly three years, three American aircraft carriers are patrolling the Indo-Pacific waters, a massive show of naval force in a region roiled by spiking tensions between the US and China."

China is North Korea's top ally.

"The unusual simultaneous appearance of the three warships, accompanied by Navy cruisers, destroyers, fighter jets and other aircraft, comes as the US escalates criticism of Beijing's response to the coronavirus outbreak, its moves to impose greater control over Hong Kong and its campaign to militarize human-made islands in the South China Sea." - AP

Guam previously was the target of bellicose threats by North Korea's leader, Kim Jong Un, in a series of escalations between North Korea and the United States during the Calvo administration. The North Korea threat to Guam involved the quick education campaign and preparations for how residents could best protect themselves in the event of a successful launch of a nuclear missile to Guam.

"We train for the consequences of these types of events," Mr. Esteves said. "We train on ballistic missile attacks only from the emergency alert warnings to the response activities afterward in terms of mass casualty events. So we have proper plans in place and so I'm confident we'll be able to respond. But just to let you know, what I've stated before is (in the event of an attack) we have very little time to inform anyone. With the time to notify the public (in the event of a missile launch), we only have like eight to 10 minutes."

Click here to review Guam's preparedness and response plans for such an attack.

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