WASHINGTON -- The Pentagon intends to add 14 interceptors to a missile defense site in Alaska by 2017 in an unusual move to beef up U.S. defenses after recent threats by North Korea’s new leadership to carry out a nuclear strike, according to defense officials.
The 14 ground-based interceptors would be added to 26 already in place at Fort Greeley in Alaska as defensive measures against incoming intercontinental ballistic missiles. Another four interceptors are in place at Vandenberg Air Force Base near Lompoc, Calif.
Boosting the U.S. defensive posture is aimed both at reassuring America and its allies in northeast Asia and warning Pyongyang that America is not letting down its defenses despite recent cuts to the Pentagon budget. Warships in the north Pacific also would provide potential cover in the event of an attack.
U.S. intelligence officials say North Korea has not developed or built long-range ballistic missiles capable of striking the continental United States, although parts of Alaska may be vulnerable.
In recent months, however, Pyongyang has tested an underground nuclear device, launched a small satellite into orbit for the first time, and displayed what U.S. intelligence officials said appeared to be a road-mobile ballistic missile.