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U.S. to Boost Missile Defenses in Response to North Korea

“WASHINGTON—The Pentagon is preparing to strengthen its missile defense systems on the West Coast in response to increased threats from North Korea and rising tensions on the Korean peninsula.

The U.S. plans to boost its ground-based missile interceptors in Alaska and California by one-third, adding 14 additional systems to the 30 already in place on the West Coast, a senior defense official said Friday. Interceptors are vehicles that are launched to intercept intercontinental missiles in flight.

The expansion in the system was due to be announced by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel at a news conference Friday.

The decision comes as North Korea has issued a series of threats to attack the U.S. and South Korea over new international sanctions and joint military exercises in the region.

Earlier this month, North Korea threatened to launch a pre-emptive nuclear strike on the U.S. and South Korea. While American officials don’t believe North Korea is capable of launching a long-range attack, the threat is seen as a concerning sign of the nation’s state of mind.

Pentagon officials signaled the possible expansion days earlier. “North Korea’s shrill public pronouncements underscore the need for the U.S. to continue to take prudent steps to defeat any future North Korean ICBM,” James Miller, undersecretary of defense for policy, said in a speech last week at the Atlantic Council….”

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