Adding to its increasingly uneasy relation with North Korea, the U.S. Friday announced plans to bolster missile defense as a response to North Korean threats.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagal in a press conference announced plans to install 14 additional ground-based missile interceptors by 2017 in the West Coast-based missile-defense system - a move that will cost Pentagon $1 billion. This will add up to almost 50 percent over the 30 interceptors already located in both Fort Greely, Alaska and California.
"The reason that we are doing what we are doing and the reason we are advancing our program here for homeland security is to not take any chances, is to stay ahead of the threat and to assure any contingency," Hagel said.
Friday's announcement came after North Korea recently threatened a preemptive nuclear attack on South Korea and the U.S. as a response to the latest sanctions imposed upon North for its third nuclear test conducted in February.
Analysts believe that North Korea doesn't yet have the ability to launch a nuclear attack on the U.S. although North Korea has warned that it has intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) with nuclear warhead ready to be fired anytime. The purpose of Friday's announcement was to check the possibility that North might keep through its increasing threats and to keep ahead of Pyongyang's nuclear ability.
"The United States has missile-defense systems in place to protect us from limited ICBM attacks, but North Korea in particular has recently made advances in its capabilities and is engaged in a series of irresponsible and reckless provocations," Hagel said.
Announcing the missile deployments in the news conference Hegal cited many developments that tend to show signs of worrying trends in North Korea. The third nuclear test conducted last month, the test of a long range missile that successfully sent satellite into space, and the discovery that North was developing new generation of mobile missiles all suggested that missile technology in the country was growing faster than what many believed.
On Friday, North Korea test fired two short-range missiles into the East Sea, the South Korean Yonhap News Agency reported. The short-range weapon tests came after a series of North Korean rhetoric including warning of turning South Korea into "sea of fire" and attacking Washington and nullifying the 1953 Korean War armistice.
Pentagon also announced that United States had informed China, the closest and the only major ally of North Korea, that more interceptors would be added as a defence against north Korea. Pentagon, however, declined to say how China reacted on the news.
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