Tags: North Korea | bill walker | alaska | nkorea | threats | serious

Gov. Walker: Alaska Taking North Korea Threats 'Very Seriously'

Image: Gov. Walker: Alaska Taking North Korea Threats 'Very Seriously'
Alaska Gov. Bill Walker (AP)

By    |   Saturday, 12 Aug 2017 10:49 AM

Alaska Gov. Bill Walker said he and his state's leaders are "very concerned about the escalation" of hostilities between the United States and North Korea, and are watching the developments very closely.

"We take it very seriously, obviously," the Independent governor told CNN's Michael Smerconish Saturday. "What many don't realize is in World War II, in addition to the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Alaska was also bombed because of our location, so our location is very strategic and we take it very seriously."

North Korea has threatened to attack Guam, a U.S. territory island located just 2,100 miles from North Korea. Alaska, meanwhile, is 3,500 miles away.

Walker has been calling, even before the current threats from North Korea, for reopening a naval base in his state, and on Saturday reiterated his belief that the state needs the protection, given its proximity to Asia and Russia.

"Our coastline exceeds all coastline in the continental U.S.," Walker told Smerconish. "Our location is very strategic."

Earlier this month, Walker told the Ketchikan Daily News that a base could "certainly" go somewhere in the Aleutian Islands, perhaps on Adak Island, the location of Alaska's former naval base. The Adak base was built in 1942, according to the National Park Service, and was closed in the late 1990s.

Walker told Smerconish Saturday that he does not think restoring the base would make Alaska more of a target for North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

"I think it helps us in our preparedness," said Walker. "We have a very strong presence in Alaska in the Air Force as well as the Army and the National Guard. The Navy and the Coast Guard are very active in Alaska, but really the missing piece to me is the naval presence in Alaska."

Smerconish asked Walker if the crisis with North Korea has reached the point of needing public preparedness drills, the governor told him that Alaskans are prepared for any disaster.

"We've had earthquakes, fires, floods, etcetera," the governor said. "Our message on preparedness is a general message of we need to be prepared for whatever comes our way."

However, Alaska's leaders have not yet sounded the alarm about a specific threat from North Korea, Walker said.

"I spoke with the governor in Hawaii a few days ago and talked about what they're doing in Hawaii and what we're doing in Alaska," said Walker. "We monitor what other similarly situated states are doing. We obviously take it seriously but have not gone to that level at this point."

Walker said the military advisers in Alaska have been in touch with the White House and he is "very comfortable" with the information they have been receiving.

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Alaska Gov. Bill Walker said he and his state's leaders are "very concerned about the escalation" of hostilities between the United States and North Korea, and are watching the developments very closely.
bill walker, alaska, nkorea, threats, serious
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2017-49-12
Saturday, 12 Aug 2017 10:49 AM
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