US to boost missile defences as North Korean nuclear threat grows

$1 billion move follows increasingly aggressive rhetoric from the secretive regime 

The United States intends to bolster its west coast’s missile defences to counter a growing nuclear threat from North Korea and Iran.

At a press conference in Washington, DC, Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel announced plans to add 14 missile interceptors to a site in Alaska, and establish a radar tracking system based in Japan.

The interceptors, which can shoot down enemy missiles in the air before they reach the US, will be added to 30 existing ground-based interceptors in Alaska and California, by 2017. Announcing the $1 billion (£660 million) plans, Mr Hagel described North Korea’s recent anti-American pronouncements as “irresponsible and reckless provocations.”

Last month, North Korea launched its third nuclear test. After the UN Security Council stepped up its sanctions, the Pyongyang government threatened a pre-emptive nuclear strike on South Korea and the US. One of the country’s top generals has claimed that the country possesses nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles that are ready to be launched. Whether those missiles have the capacity to reach the continental US, more than 3,000 miles away, is another matter. President Barack Obama told ABC News earlier this week that he did not believe North Korea had the capability to carry out its threats.

The existing missile defence sites at Fort Greely, Alaska and Vandenberg Air Force Base, California were built in response to the threat of North Korean missile strikes during George W Bush’s presidency. The US Navy has also beefed up its missile defence, deploying four guided missile destroyers close to the Korean peninsula. Speaking on Tuesday, US Defence Undersecretary James Miller said, “Our policy is to stay ahead of the threat, and to continue to ensure that we are ahead of any potential future Iranian or North Korean ICBM capability.''

Iran, meanwhile, is said to be at least a year from developing a functioning nuclear weapon. On Thursday evening, as he prepared for his first presidential visit to Israel, Mr Obama told Tel Aviv’s Channel 2 News that the US would not stand  by while Tehran acquired nuclear capabilities. “I have been crystal clear about my position on Iran possessing a nuclear weapon,” he said. “That is a red line for us. It is not only something that would be dangerous for Israel, it would be dangerous for the world.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Office Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: They make daily deliveries to most foodservice...

Recruitment Genius: Transport Planner

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: They make daily deliveries to most foodservice...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - C#, ASP.Net, MVC, jQuery

£42000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is looking for a C# ...

Recruitment Genius: General Driver - Automotive

£15500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the South East's leading Motor Re...

Day In a Page

Solved after 200 years: the mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army

Solved after 200 years

The mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army
Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise

Robert Fisk on the Turkey conflict

Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise
Investigation into wreck of unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden

Sunken sub

Investigation underway into wreck of an unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden
Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes

Age of the selfie

Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes
Not so square: How BBC's Bloomsbury saga is sexing up the period drama

Not so square

How Virginia Woolf saga is sexing up the BBC period drama
Rio Olympics 2016: The seven teenagers still carrying a torch for our Games hopes

Still carrying the torch

The seven teenagers given our Olympic hopes
The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis, but history suggests otherwise

The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis...

...but history suggests otherwise
The bald truth: How one author's thinning hair made him a Wayne Rooney sympathiser

The bald truth

How thinning hair made me a Wayne Rooney sympathiser
Froome wins second Tour de France after triumphant ride into Paris with Team Sky

Tour de France 2015

Froome rides into Paris to win historic second Tour
Fifteen years ago, Concorde crashed, and a dream died. Today, the desire to travel faster than the speed of sound is growing once again

A new beginning for supersonic flight?

Concorde's successors are in the works 15 years on from the Paris crash
I would never quit Labour, says Liz Kendall

I would never quit party, says Liz Kendall

Latest on the Labour leadership contest
Froome seals second Tour de France victory

Never mind Pinot, it’s bubbly for Froome

Second Tour de France victory all but sealed
Oh really? How the 'lowest form of wit' makes people brighter and more creative

The uses of sarcasm

'Lowest form of wit' actually makes people brighter and more creative
A magazine editor with no vanity, and lots of flair

No vanity, but lots of flair

A tribute to the magazine editor Ingrid Sischy
Foraging: How the British rediscovered their taste for chasing after wild food

In praise of foraging

How the British rediscovered their taste for wild food