Pentagon to announce missile defense moves; defying Pyongyang, sending Ash Carter to South Korea

Ash Carter, deputy secretary of defense, is leaving Sunday on a four-country tour of Asia that includes a stop in South Korea -- for the first time since Pyongyang renewed its saber-rattling rhetoric, including a threat of nuclear war.

Carter is stopping to see allies and U.S. troops in Japan, South Korea, and the Philippines on the way to a global defense conference in Indonesia.

After weeks of a showing a calm face to North Korea’s threat of nuclear attack, the Pentagon reportedly “is set to deploy” 14 additional ground-based interceptor missiles in Alaska and California.

"Our concern about Pyongyang’s potential ICBM capability is compounded by the regime’s focus on developing nuclear weapons. North Korea’s third nuclear test last month is obviously a serious concern for all nations," said Under Secretary of State Jim Miller in a speech this week. "North Korea’s shrill public pronouncements underscore the need for the U.S. to continue to take prudent steps to defeat any future North Korean ICBM."

“By finishing Missile Field Number Two at Ft. Greely, Alaska, and being prepared to complete Missile Field Number One at Ft. Greely, we have the ability to swiftly deploy up to 14 additional Ground-Based Interceptors if needed,” he revealed, at the Atlantic Council.

On Friday, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel was scheduled to make announcement on missile defense at 3pm in the Pentagon.

Not showing signs of backing down, North Korea reportedly launched a short-range missile into the sea on Friday. It is unclear whether North Korea's long-range missile, the Taepodong-2, is capable of reaching the United States.

As  Hagel settles into his new job, Carter is representing the U.S. at the 2013 Jakarta International Defense Dialogue next week, which expects participants from countries across Southeast Asia and beyond. Not on the official list: China.

“Deputy Secretary Carter's first stop will be Japan,” a defense official told the E-Ring.  “Following Japan, Deputy Secretary Carter will travel to South Korea, the Philippines, and Indonesia.”

Pentagon press secretary George Little said, in a statement, “The trip will provide Deputy Secretary Carter an opportunity to continue U.S. defense consultations on a range of common security challenges.”

DOD photo