US Prepares Anti-missile Defenses to Answer North Korean Threat

The US has deployed anti-missile defenses around Hawaii after receiving reports that it may face a missile strike from North Korea some time around US Independence Day next month.

The communist regime of the secluded country vowed last week to strengthen its nuclear arsenal and threatened UN sanctions following its second nuclear test on May 25.

US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said on Thursday that the military has set up additional defenses around Hawaii, which comprise of a ground-based mobile missile system and a radar system nearby. Together they could shoot an incoming missile in mid air.

“Without telegraphing what we will do, I would just say … we are in a good position, should it become necessary, to protect Americans and American territory,” Gates told reporters in Washington.

His comment came following Japan’s Yomiuri newspaper reported that North Korea might test fire a Taepodong-2 missile with a range of up to 4,000 miles (6,500 kilometers), sometime around the U.S. holiday of Independence Day on July 4.

The missile, which could be launched from North Korea’s Tongchang-ri site, would fly over Japan but would not be able to reach Hawaii, which is about 4,500 miles (7,200 kilometers) from the Korean peninsula, said the newspapers report.

It should be noted that three years ago, North Korea test-fired a similar long-range missile on July 4, which failed seconds after liftoff.

However, a spokesman for the Japanese Defense Ministry declined to comment on Yomiuri’s report, which cited an analysis by Japan’s Defense Ministry and intelligence gathered by US reconnaissance satellites.

South Korea’s government also remained silent on the report, but made a general appeal to North Korea to follow international norms.

“We hope that North Korea, first of all (will) give up nuclear ambitions and abide by the agreement that we made in 1992 — that is, a basic agreement for denuclearization of the Korean peninsula,” South Korean Prime Minister Han Seung-soo told reporters.

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