US to Deploy Missile Defense System to Guam Due to N. Korean Threats
April 03, 2013
by VOA News
U.S. military officials say Washington is preparing to deploy an advanced missile defense system to the Pacific in the coming weeks, as a precautionary move to protect against North Korea's ballistic missile threat.
A Pentagon spokeswoman said Wednesday that the system will be based in the U.S. territory of Guam, roughly 3,000 kilometers southeast of the Korean peninsula. It is not clear when it will be operational.
The Pentagon announcement came as North Korea - angered by a new round of international sanctions - continued its weeks-long series of threats against the United States and South Korea.
In a statement early Thursday, the official KCNA news agency quoted the General Staff of the [North] Korean People's Army as saying it would take a series of "strong, actual military countermeasures" against the United States. The statement did not provide details, except to say those measures would involve cutting edge nuclear weapons.
North Korea on Wednesday began blocking South Korean workers from entering a joint industrial zone just north of the border, jeopardizing the last remaining sign of cooperation between the two foes.
Pyongyang announced it was suspending South Korean access to the Kaesong industrial complex, but said it would allow the hundreds of South Korean workers at the facility to leave.
South Korea says it was not told how long the entry ban will last, but warned that, if it is prolonged, South Korean workers could run out of supplies and food. Unification Ministry spokesperson Kim Hyung-Seok says the safety of its workers is Seoul's top priority.
"North Korea's measure to suspend the industrial zone is an obstacle to the stable management of the zone. We urge the North to immediately normalize the access to the Kaesong industrial zone," he said.
Seoul's defense ministry says military action is a last resort option if the safety of the workers is threatened.
It is not the first time Pyongyang has blocked South Koreans from entering or exiting the complex, which opened in 2004 and is a valuable source of revenue for the impoverished North. But this appears to be the most serious threat yet to the center.
China, North Korea's closest ally, on Wednesday expressed "serious concerns" about the situation on the Korean peninsula. Foreign ministry spokesperson Hong Lei said it is the responsibility of all parties involved to work for peace.
“Peace and stability on the peninsula is the shared responsibility of them all. China believes all parties should exercise calm and restraint and should not take actions that deteriorate the situation. We hope all parties will look at the long-term, engage in dialogue and stay committed to lasting peace and stability," he said.
North Korea is angry about tough United Nations sanctions passed in response to its third nuclear test in February and its latest satellite launch. It has threatened in recent weeks to wage war on the South and carry out a nuclear attack on the U.S. mainland.
Western military analysts do not believe Pyongyang has the technology to mount an operational nuclear warhead on a missile at this time.
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