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US to bolster missile defences to counter N. Korea threat: Hagel

Published on Mar 16, 2013 9:16 AM
United States (US) Secretary of Defence Chuck Hagel speaks at his news conference at the Pentagon in Washington on March 15, 2013. Mr Hagel announced plans on Friday to bolster US missile defences in response to a growing nuclear threat from North Korea, adding 14 interceptors to a missile defense site in Alaska and deploying a radar tracking station in Japan. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - United States (US) Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel announced plans on Friday to bolster US missile defences in response to "irresponsible and reckless provocations" by North Korea, which threatened a preventative nuclear strike against the US last week.

Mr Hagel said the Pentagon would add 14 new anti-missile interceptors at Fort Greely in Alaska - an effective reversal of an early Obama administration decision - and move ahead with the deployment of a second missile-defense radar in Japan.

The Pentagon also left open the possibility of creating a site on the US East Coast where the Pentagon could field more interceptors capable of striking down an incoming missile. The 14 additional interceptor deployments would cost nearly US$1 billion (S$1.25 billion) and must be approved by Congress.

"By taking the steps I outlined today we will strengthen our homeland defence, maintain our commitments to our allies and partners, and make clear to the world that the United States stands firm against aggression," Mr Hagel told a news conference.

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