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April 4, 2013

Missile defense shield to counter threat

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon said Wednesday it was deploying a missile defense shield to Guam to protect the U.S. and its allies in the region in response to increasingly hostile rhetoric from North Korea.

The North renewed its threat to launch a nuclear attack on the United States.

The threat issued by the General Staff of the Korean People’s Army capped a week of psychological warfare and military muscle moves by both sides that have rattled the region.

On Wednesday, the Pentagon announced that it will deploy a land-based, high-altitude missile defense system to Guam to strengthen the Asia-Pacific region’s protections against a possible attack.

Pyongyang said that America’s ever-escalating hostile policy toward North Korea “will be smashed” by the North’s nuclear strike and the “merciless operation” of its armed forces.

“The U.S. had better ponder over the prevailing grave situation,” said the translated statement, which was issued before the Pentagon announced its plans.

The Pentagon had no immediate reaction to the latest statement, but earlier Wednesday Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel labeled North Korea’s rhetoric as a real, clear danger and threat to the U.S. and its Asia-Pacific allies.

And he said the U.S. is doing all it can to defuse the situation.

“Some of the actions they’ve taken over the last few weeks present a real and clear danger and threat to the interests, certainly of our allies, starting with South Korea and Japan and also the threats that the North Koreans have leveled directly at the United States regarding our base in Guam, threatened Hawaii, threatened the West Coast of the United States,” Hagel said.

He said he believes that the U.S. has had “measured, responsible, serious responses to those threats.”

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