Thursday, June 18, 2009

Wire: Gates Activates Missile Defense in Hawaii Ahead of North Korea Launch

Off the Wire

Off the Wire:

WASHINGTON, June 18, 2009 -- Newswire services this afternoon reported that Defense Secretary Robert Gates said he has ordered the U.S. military to take defensive measures should North Korea attempt to fire a ballistic missile toward Hawaii.

“I think we are in a good position, should it become necessary, to protect American territory,” Gates told reporters at the Pentagon today. “We do have some concerns if they were to launch a missile to the west in the direction of Hawaii,” Gates said.

Gates said he has sent the military's ground-based mobile missile system to Hawaii, and positioned a radar system nearby. Together the systems theoretically could detect and shoot down a North Korean missile if it came to that.

The Associated Press said a Japanese newspaper reported Thursday that North Korea might fire its most advanced ballistic missile toward Hawaii around the Fourth of July holiday.

A new missile launch would be a slap in the face of the international community, which punished North Korea with new U.N. sanctions for conducting a second nuclear test on May 25 in defiance of a U.N. ban, AP said.

The missile now being readied in the North is believed to be a Taepodong-2 with a range of up to 4,000 miles (6,500 kilometers), and would be launched from North Korea's Dongchang-ni site on the northwestern coast sometime around July 4, Independence Day in U.S., the Yomiuri newspaper said.

It cited an analysis by Japan's Defense Ministry and intelligence gathered by U.S. reconnaissance satellites.

This is a developing story.

(Report from newswire sources.)

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