May 18, 2009 11:34
The head of the Pentagon says that the United States has 30 ground-based interceptors in place targeting potential missiles from North Korea. U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said at a Senate hearing on Thursday of the interceptors that the "system really is only capable against North Korea, and that 30 interceptors in fact provide a strong defense against Pyongyang."
Addressing the Senate Armed Services Committee, Gates explained the new administration's plans to cut spending for an increase in the number of such interceptors to 44, saying 30 is a sufficient amount for defense considering the North's current missile capability. The ground-based interceptors are not the only means of missile-interception available to the U.S., and Gates has chosen to redirect funds to other more proven ones.
He did not elaborate where exactly the interceptors are positioned. Gates' remarks come amid rising tensions on the Korean peninsula after the North launched what it claims was a satellite last month.
Although Pyongyang failed to put the satellite into orbit, experts say the launch was successful in that it allowed the North to test its long-range missile capabilities.
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