SEOUL – The United States plans to deploy two missile-interceptor ships from South Korea on Monday, a military spokesman said, days ahead of a North Korean rocket launch seen by many as a test of its longest-range missile.
‘The launch presents the first significant challenge by the prickly state to U.S. President Barack Obama, who makes his first major international appearance this week at the G-20 summit where he will discuss Pyongyang’s intentions with global leaders including Chinese President Hu Jintao. The United States, however, has no plans to shoot down the rocket in a test seen by Washington as part of Pyongyang’s goal to eventually develop an intercontinental ballistic missile, U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates said on Sunday. “I would say we’re not prepared to do anything about it,” Gates said on “Fox News Sunday”. “If we had an aberrant missile, one that looked like it was headed for Hawaii, we might consider it,” he said, adding the Pentagon does not believe North Korea can put a warhead on the missile or reach the U.S. West Coast.U.S. Forces Korea plans to dispatch two Aegis-equipped destroyers currently at the South Korean port of Busan, a spokesman said without offering further details. Local media quoted informed sources as saying the vessels with sophisticated radar will monitor the launch. Japan deployed two missile-intercepting vessels to waters off its west coast at the weekend. The North Korean rocket is supposed to drop booster stages to the east and west of Japan. Government officials said Tokyo is poised to shoot down debris that poses a threat to its public.