U.S. boosts Hawaii defense to counter N. Korea threat
Associated Press Writer
SEOUL, South Korea – The United States has deployed anti-missile defenses around Hawaii amid reports that North Korea may fire its most advanced ballistic missile toward the U.S. islands early next month, adding to already high tensions in the region.
A report in a Japanese newspaper said Pyongyang might test-fire its Taepodong-2 toward Hawaii around the U.S. holiday of Independence Day. North Korea test-fired a similar long-range missile on July 4 three years ago, but it failed seconds after liftoff.
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the additional defenses around Hawaii consist 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 on Thursday.
A new missile launch – though not expected to reach U.S. territory – would be a brazen slap in the face of the international community, which punished North Korea with new U.N. sanctions for conducting a second nuclear test on May 25 in defiance of a U.N. ban.
North Korea spurned the U.N. Security Council resolution with threats of war and pledges to expand its nuclear bomb-making program.
The missile now being readied in the North is believed to be a Taepodong-2 with a range of up to 4,000 miles and would be launched from North Korea’s Tongchang-ri site on the northwestern coast sometime around July 4, the Yomiuri newspaper said.
It cited an analysis by Japan’s Defense Ministry and intelligence gathered by U.S. reconnaissance satellites.
It speculated the missile could fly over Japan and toward Hawaii, but would not be able to hit Hawaii’s main islands, which are about 4,500 miles from the Korean peninsula.