September 21, 2017 09:32
Washington is considering shooting down North Korean ballistic missiles "even if it does not directly threaten the U.S. or its allies," CNN reported Tuesday.
North Korea has fired two missiles over U.S. ally Japan recently, on Aug. 29 and Sept. 15.
But "the question that now needs to be answered is whether North Korea's missile program has progressed to the level of being such an inherent threat that the Pentagon would recommend targeting a missile even if its trajectory did not indicate it would hit the U.S. or its allies," CNN quoted a senior U.S. official as implying.
"The idea of shooting down a missile even if it is not a direct threat is not new," a senior U.S. defense official said. "But with two recently launched North Korean missiles flying over northern Japan, the potential for having to consider a shoot-down without a direct threat remains very real."
The U.S. considers "a direct threat to the U.S. mainland and its allies" a red line for military action against the North.
A U.S. intelligence official told CNN that the North's Hwasong-12 medium-range ballistic missile "appears to be successful."
"It is likely North Korea will turn back to additional testing of [Hwasong 14] intercontinental ballistic missile to see if they can improve its performance," he added.
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