Latest U.S. Message To N. Korea: Missile Defense System Sent To Guam

By: CBS News (Posted by Josh Mabry)
By: CBS News (Posted by Josh Mabry)

(CBS NEWS)-- The U.S. is deploying a ballistic missile defense system to Guam in the coming weeks, its latest response to daily threats and provocations from North Korea.

Defense Department spokeswoman Cathy Wilkinson announced Wednesday deploying a Therminal High Altitude Area Defense Sytem (THAAD) is "a precautionary move to strengthen our regional defense posture" against North Korea.

The U.S. has been beefing up security in the region over last week amid escalating tensions with North Korea.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel early Wednesday North Korea's recent rhetoric "presents a real, clear danger and threat" to the U.S. and its Asia-Pacific allies and says America is doing all it can to defuse the situation.

And like Secretary of State John Kerry Tuesday, Hagel said there is a path to peace on the troubled Korean peninsula that does not include making nuclear threats or taking provocative actions.

On Monday, CBS News correspondent David Martin reported the U.S. Navy stationed a missile defense ship southwest of the Korean Peninsula, and a sea-going radar could soon be moved into position to keep close watch on North Korea's launch site for long-range missiles. The move came after the U.S. on Sunday sent F-22 fighter jets to South Korea in a military exercise. Last week, two radar-evading B-2 Spirit bombers were sent to practice runs over South Korea.

North Korea, however, hasn't shown any signs of toning down the rhetoric. Thirty-year-old dictator Kim Jung Un declared a "warlike" state against his southern neighbor. On Wednesday, the country barred South Korean workers from entering the jointly run Kaesong industrial complex, the last remaining symbol of d?tente between the rivals.

Seoul's Unification Ministry spokesman, Kim Hyung-suk, said Pyongyang was allowing South Koreans to return home from Kaesong. But Kim said about 480 South Koreans who had planned to travel to the park Wednesday had been refused entry.

And on Tuesday, North Korea said that it will quickly begin "readjusting and restarting" the facilities at its main Yongbyon nuclear complex, including the plutonium reactor and a uranium enrichment plant. Both could produce fuel for nuclear weapons.

Analysts, however, say North Korea is all bark and no bite. Nuclear non-proliferation expert Mark Fitzpatrick, of the IISS, told that Tuesday's warning from Pyongyang was merely "an announcement of an intention."

"It would take them at least 6 months to get it going again," said Fitzpatrick. "The coming weeks will probably provide some evidence as to whether they're following through on it."

"There's a long way to go between a state intention and actually being able to pull it off," said State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland.

Still, the U.S. is taking steps to ensure it has the capacity to defend itself and its allies against any threats from North Korea, and President Barack Obama is being updated regularly, said the president's spokesman, Jay Carney.

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