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What you need to know about the North Korea showdown

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A man walks past the Seoul office of the Guam Visitors Bureau in Seoul

Its proximity to China, Japan, the Philippines and the Korean Peninsula has long made the island an essential possession of the US military.

"On the North Korean side", he says, "there are differences of specificity". USA military options range from nothing to a full-on conventional assault by air, sea and ground forces.

"If it's going to happen it's going to happen", Loiue Joyce, a woman in her mid-20s, said of the North Korean threat, as she enjoyed a day of shopping. While already taking up 30 percent of the island, the American military has been seeking to increase its presence by relocating to Guam thousands of Marines who are now based in Okinawa, Japan.

Are we headed to war?

"We need to have our own military options to overwhelm the North", the Korea Economic Daily said in an editorial earlier this week. "[Although] In this kind of brinksmanship, the potential for miscalculation is high". Its natives are USA citizens by birth.

Although its stockpile of nuclear warheads has been decreasing since the 1960s, the USA inventory remains second only to Russia's.

North Korea said under the plan, four Hwasong-12 rockets would fly over Shimane, Hiroshima and Koichi prefectures in Japan, hitting waters 19 to 25 miles from the island, the Associated Press reported. One is if they continue trying to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile "with a nuclear weapon on top" that is capable of striking America, the South Carolina Republican told CBS News Wednesday.

What does Guam have to do with it?

A statue of Guam hero Ricardo Bordallo is pictured at the entrance of the Governor's Complex on the island of Guam, a U.S. Pacific Territory, August 10, 2017.

Tourists frolic along the Tumon beach on the island of Guam, a US Pacific Territory.

Gaminde's remarks comes after North Korea announced earlier on Thursday that the nation has a detailed plan for a missile strike near Guam, where about 7,000 USA troops are stationed, using four intermediate-range ballistic rockets. "They are here to protect the islands, just in case something happens".

"North Korea has always threatened other countries".

If North Korea fires missiles toward Guam, they would take about 14 minutes to reach the island, said Guam Homeland Security spokeswoman Jenna Gaminde. It has seen various popular movements pushing for greater self-government or even US statehood, most notably a significant but failed effort in the 1980s to make it a commonwealth on par with Puerto Rico. That would allow the country to inflict significant damage on a USA ally, even without using a nuclear weapon.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, asked about the issue while traveling in Washington state on Thursday, told reporters, "do I have military options?"

Naval Base Guam is an important outpost for USA fast-attack nuclear powered submarines that are a key means for gathering intelligence in the region, including off the Korean peninsula and in the South China Sea where China has been building military bases on man-made islands that have stirred tension across Asia.

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