A top US military commander said today he favored shooting down a North Korean missile only if it threatened the United States or Washington’s allies in the region.
When asked by lawmakers if he supported knocking out any missile fired by North Korea, Admiral Samuel Locklear, head of US Pacific Command, said: “I would not recommend that.”
However, the four-star admiral told the Senate Armed Services Committee he would “certainly recommend” intercepting an incoming North Korean missile “if it was in defense of our allies” or the United States.
Amid widespread speculation that North Korea could be preparing a missile launch, Locklear also said he was confident the US military would be able to detect quickly where any missile was headed.
The US military has a powerful radar in Japan to help track a possible missile launch as well as naval ships in the area equipped with anti-missile weaponry. Japan and South Korea also have their own missile defense systems.
The Pacific Command chief’s comments underscored the delicate balancing act faced by President Barack Obama as his administration attempts to demonstrate US resolve without aggravating the crisis on the Korean peninsula.