Two top American military commanders say the United States is "fully prepared to respond" to North Korea's planned rocket launch next month, calling it a threat to U.S. security.
The comments come as North Korea reportedly prepares for what the U.S. believes will be a long-range missile test in early April.
The top U.S. commander in the Pacific, Adm. Timothy Keating, told senators Thursday that there is a "high probability" that the United States could knock down any North Korean missile.
He says the United States is watching North Korea closely so that it can respond to the launch should such action be needed.
Gen. Walter Sharp, the top U.S. commander in South Korea, says the threat is real amid concern in South Korea. He called on North Korea "not to do this provocation."
It will be very interesting to see how this plays out.
Early this month (March), it was reported that the Japanese Ministry of Defense will dispatch two Aegis equipped destroyers into the Sea of Japan that could potentially shoot-down missiles launched by North Korea. Of course, the Japanese government did not confirm these reports.
The United States has deployed seven Aegis destroyers capable of intercepting missiles as part of its joint military drills with South Korea that started on March 9, according to military sources cited in the upcoming edition of East-Asia-Intel.com.
Meanwhile, North Korea's military has warned that it would retaliate against any U.S. or Japanese attempt to intercept a satellite it says it is preparing to launch, saying such an attempt would spark a war. In a strongly worded statement, the General Staff of the People's Army vowed to mobilize "the most powerful military means" to attack any countries trying to shoot down its rocket.
Just last week, the US North Korean issued a veiled threat against cilivan airlines in or near its airspace.