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Keating: US Ready to Intercept NK Missile

Posted February. 28, 2009 04:43,   


The head of the U.S. Pacific Commands said yesterday, “If a (North Korean) missile leaves the launch pad, we`ll be prepared to respond upon direction of the president.”

Admiral Timothy Keating made the comment in an exclusive interview with ABC News, adding, “There`s equipment moving up there that would indicate the preliminary stages of preparation for a launch. So I`d say it`s more than less likely.”

“I`m not a betting man but I`d go like 60/40, 70/30 that it will, they will attempt to launch a satellite.”

Keating said the U.S. military is ready to respond with at least five different systems: destroyers, Aegis cruisers, radar, a space-based missile defense system and ground-based interceptors.

“We will be fully prepared to respond,” he said.

In Tokyo, Japanese Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada suggested his country will likely intercept a North Korean long-range ballistic missile if it is launched toward Japan.

“Should it look like it’s not a satellite launch -- that it’s something other than a satellite launch -- we`ll be ready to respond,” he said.

In the North, Pyongyang is said to have begun assembling the missile rocket believed to be the Taepodong-2 at its Musudan-ri base.

A South Korean government source said the North has begun to assemble the missile rocket on the ground, adding the launch is expected late next month or early April.

In a related move, South Korean and U.S. intelligence are known to have detected brisk movement by North Korean trucks and personnel in and out of the building where the missile rocket is allegedly being assembled.

Experts predict the North will need two or three days to assemble the rocket.