'US can intercept N. Korean missiles'

Gates tells congressman US fully protected from North Korean threat "for a number of years."

Kim Jong Il new 248.88 (photo credit: AP)
Kim Jong Il new 248.88
(photo credit: AP)
Defense Secretary Robert Gates expressed confidence on Tuesday that the United States could shoot down any North Korean missile fired toward America. Gates told US lawmakers at a hearing Tuesday that the US would have a "high probability of being able to defend ourselves" if the North fired a long-range missile. He said that US missile interceptors "are fully adequate to protect us from the North Korean threat for a number of years." He added that if the North Korean "threat" should change, the United States could easily expand its missile interceptor force. North Korea has announced that it tested a nuclear device and is apparently assembling for a long-range missile test.