'US can intercept N.Korean missile but may opt not to'

April 9, 2013 20:48

WASHINGTON - The United States is capable of intercepting a North Korean missile, should it launch one in the coming days, but may choose not to if the projected trajectory shows it is not a threat, a top US military commander told Congress on Tuesday.

Admiral Samuel Locklear, the commander of US forces in the Pacific region, said the US military believed North Korea had moved to its east coast an unspecified number of Musudan missiles, with a range of roughly 3,000-3,500 miles.

An Obama administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters "our working assumption is that there are two missiles that they may be prepared to launch" - which was in line with South Korean media reports.

Locklear said the Musudan's range was far enough to put Guam, a US territory, at risk but not Hawaii or the US mainland.

"If the missile was in defense of the homeland, I would certainly recommend that action (of intercepting it). And if it was defense of our allies, I would recommend that action," Locklear told a Senate hearing.

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