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U.S. beefing up nuclear defense

The U.S. will send more ground-based missile interceptors to the West Coast on the heels of North Korea's threats of a nuclear attack on South Korea and the United States.
(CNN/WSYR-TV) -- The U.S. will send more ground-based missile interceptors to the West Coast on the heels of North Korea's threats of a nuclear attack on South Korea and the United States.

If a nuclear missile is ever fired at the United States, the best hope to stop it lies with 30 interceptor missiles, which can be launched from ground silos in Alaska and California.

Now, the Pentagon is deploying up to 14 more.

"The reason that we are doing what we are doing and the reason we are advancing our program here for Homeland Security is to not take any chances, is to stay ahead of the threat," explained Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel.

North Korea tested a long range missile in December. It conducted its third nuclear test in February and just this month, threatened a pre-emptive strike on the United States, which caught the Pentagon’s attention.

"North Korea's shrill public pronouncements underscore the need for the US to continue to take prudent steps to defeat any future North Korean ICBM," said James Miller, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy.

As far back as the State of the Union speech, President Obama said the U.S. would, “strengthen our own missile defense and lead the world in taking firm action in response to these threats."

However, Republican congressional sources say the President’s actions have been anything but firm.

In 2011, the administration moth-balled one Alaskan missile field arguing intelligence showed there wasn’t enough of a threat -- a short-sited move say the congressional sources.

“The intel didn’t change. This is right where we expected North Korea to be,” congressional sources said.

And that’s in possession of a missile that could travel nearly 5,000 miles, in theory.

North Korea has never successfully launched a long range ICBM.

"I think what you see here is mainly a political signal to North Korea, that no one's going to be intimidated by their December launch and then the subsequent nuclear test," said Steven Pifer, Dir. Brookings Arms Control Initiative.

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