U.S. defense officials say that the military has deployed missile interceptors and radar to safeguard Hawaii from a potential North Korean missile test expected around July 4. The announcement comes as tensions between the two countries escalate over North Korea's controversial nuclear-weapon program.
Speaking at a Pentagon news conference yesterday, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said that the United States is prepared if North Korea test-fires a missile toward the island.
"We do have some concerns if they were to launch a missile . . . in the direction of Hawaii," Gates said. "We are in a good position, should it become necessary, to protect American territory."
A powerful sea-based radar system would closely track the path of any incoming long-range ballistic missiles. Missile-defense weapons would intercept any potential threats, Gates said.
The Obama administration's concern that Pyongyang might soon fire a missile toward Hawaii follows reports by the Japanese media yesterday that North Korea plans to conduct another nuclear test next month.
Earlier this week, President Barack Obama and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak vowed to stop North Korea from possessing nuclear weapons. Obama called a nuclear-armed North Korea a "grave threat" to the world.