North Korea Missile
In response to continued threats from North Korea, the Pentagon is beefing up its missile defense shield, planning to add 14 missile interceptors to the 30 already stationed in Alaska and California, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced Friday. The additional interceptors would be a 50 percent boost for U.S. missile defense that would "make clear to the world that the United States stands firm against aggression," Hagel said in a briefing at the Pentagon.
The role of the interceptors is to scan for incoming threats, and shoot down long-range missiles in-flight before they hit their intended target. Patriot missile batteries are already deployed to South Korea to mitigate any potential threats there.
Hagel said the interceptors should be in place by September 2017, but won't be deployed until they've been adequately tested.
After Hagel's briefing, a reporter asked of the major threats facing the U.S. A Pentagon spokesman said they were "watching North Korea in particular." He went on to confirm that North Korean missiles "have the range to reach the United States."
While they may have the range, they still have not demonstrated the ability to arm a missile with a nuclear warhead, as Gizmodo reports.
"The threat is serious and real and should not, in my view, be played down," Prof. Mike Gruntmana PhD and professor of astronautics at the University of Southern California, told Business Insider in a Mar. 8 email.
From The New York Times:
Officials acknowledged that the ground-based interceptors based in Alaska and California have shown dubious capabilities in tests, and said the additional interceptors would be deployed only when they had proven their capability. “We have confidence in our system,” Mr. Hagel said.
In a speech Tuesday, James Miller, Defense Undersecretary for Policy also spoke of the threat. From the Marine Corps Times:
"Our concern about Pyongyang's potential ICBM capability is compounded by the regime's focus on developing nuclear weapons. North Korea's third nuclear test last month is obviously a serious concern for all nations," he said.
At the Friday press briefing, officials stressed that the entire United States would be covered [from potential threats] by interceptors stationed in Alaska