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US to bolster naval presence near North Korea

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Japanese Minister of Defense Itsunori Onodera pose for an official photo before a meeting in Tokyo, April 6, 2014. Hagel and Onodera met in Japan to discuss issues of mutual importance. DOD Photo by Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Japanese Minister of Defense Itsunori Onodera pose for an official photo before a meeting in Tokyo, April 6, 2014. Hagel and Onodera met in Japan to discuss issues of mutual importance. DOD Photo by Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo

WASHINGTON – To counter North Korean missile threats, the US announced Sunday that it will send will send two more missile defense ships to Japan.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said on Sunday the ships are designed to intercept ballistic missiles post-boost phase and before reentry.

Japan will have a total of seven similar ships once these two are delivered.

“In response to Pyongyang’s pattern of provocative and destabilizing actions, including recent missile launches in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions, I can announce today that the United States is planning to forward-deploy two additional Aegis ballistic missile defense ships to Japan by 2017,” Hagel said at a news conference with Japanese Minister of Defense Itsunori Onodera.

“This deployment follows our October announcement to establish a second missile-defense radar site in Kyoto Prefecture and my decision last year to increase ground-based interceptors in Alaska,” Hagel said.  He added that sending more ships will enhance the US’s ability to defend Japan and its own homeland from North Korea’s ballistic missile threat.

Significantly bolstering the U.S. naval presence also strengthens the U.S.-Japan alliance and increases deterrence against North Korean aggression, the secretary said.

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