US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel has deployed new 14 interceptors in Alaska to bolster the country’s missile defence system against the increasing threat from North Korea.
“We will strengthen the homeland missile defence by deploying 14 additional ground-based interceptors, (GBIs), at Fort Greely, Alaska. That will increase the number of deployed ground-based interceptors from 30 to 44, including the four GBIs at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California,” Hagel told reporters yesterday.
These additional GBIs will provide a nearly 50 per cent increase in our missile defence capability, he added.
Secondly, with the support of the Japanese Government, the US is planning to deploy an additional radar in Japan, he said, adding that this will provide improved early warning and tracking of any missile launched from North Korea in the US or Japan.
The Pentagon, he said, is also conducting environmental impact studies for a potential additional GBI site in the US.
While the administration has not made any decision on whether to proceed with an additional site, conducting environmental impact studies will shorten the timeline for construction should that decision be made, he added.
Hagel said the series of steps announced by him keep the US ahead of the challenge posed by Iran and North Korea’s development of longer-range ballistic missile capabilities.
The US has missile defence systems in place to protect the country from limited ICBM (inter continental ballistic missile) 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.
“Specifically, North Korea announced last month that it conducted its third nuclear test and last April displayed what appears to be a road-mobile ICBM. It also used its Taepo Dong II missile to put a satellite into orbit, thus demonstrating progress in its development of long-range missile technology,” the Defence Secretary said.
With the new announcements in place, Hagel said he is confident that the fresh deployment of interceptors gives the US the security it needs and the people need to be reassured that that security is there.