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U.S. delays missile test as tensions rise

By Lolita C. Baldor

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 08:16 a.m. HST, Apr 07, 2013

WASHINGTON >> Amid mounting tensions with North Korea, the Pentagon has delayed an intercontinental ballistic missile test that had been planned for next week at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, a senior defense official told The Associated Press Saturday.

The official said Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel decided to put off the long-planned Minuteman 3 test until sometime next month because of concerns the launch could be misinterpreted and exacerbate the Korean crisis. Hagel made the decision Friday, the official said.

The test was not connected to the ongoing U.S.-South Korean military exercises that have been going on in that region and have stoked North Korean anger and fueled an escalation in threatening actions and rhetoric.

North Korea's military warned earlier this week that it was authorized to attack the U.S. using "smaller, lighter and diversified" nuclear weapons. And South Korean officials say North Korea has moved at least one missile with "considerable range" to its east coast — possibly the untested Musudan missile, believed to have a range of 1,800 miles. U.S. officials have said the missile move suggests a North Korean launch could be imminent and thus fuels worries in the region.

Pyongyang's moves come on the heels of the North's nuclear test in February, and the launch in December of a long-range North Korean rocket that could potentially hit the continental U.S. Added to that is the uncertainty surrounding the intentions of North Korea's new young leader, Kim Jong Un.

Meanwhile, North Korea has been angered by increasing sanctions and ongoing U.S.-South Korean military exercises, which have included a broad show of force ranging from stealthy B-2 bombers and F-22 fighters to a wide array of ballistic missile defense-capable warships. The exercises are scheduled to continue through the end of the month.

This past week, the U.S. said two of the Navy's missile-defense ships were moved closer to the Korean peninsula, and a land-based system is being deployed to the Pacific territory of Guam later this month. The Pentagon last month announced longer-term plans to beef up its U.S.-based missile defenses.

While Washington is taking the North Korean threats seriously, U.S. leaders continue to say that they have seen no visible signs that the North is preparing for a large-scale attack.

The defense official, who was not authorized to speak publicly about the Minuteman 3 test delay and requested anonymity, said U.S. policy continues to support the building and testing of its nuclear deterrent capabilities. And the official said the launch was not put off because of any technical problems.

The globe-circling intercontinental ballistic missiles make up one of the three legs of America's nuclear arsenal. There are about 450 Minuteman 3 missiles based in underground silos in the north-central U.S. The other two legs of the nuclear arsenal are submarine-launched ballistic missiles and weapons launched from big bombers, such as the B-52 and the stealthy B-2.

The traditional rationale for the "nuclear triad" of weaponry is that it is essential to surviving any nuclear exchange.

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serious wrote:
Playing right into their hands. That's what they want to see panic and insecurity!! Haven't we learned, the one with the biggest stick wins!!!!
on April 6,2013 | 04:34PM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
Kim wins this round. Backed the US down. He spends $5 on propaganda, we spend $500 million in response and then back down. We are so getting played.
on April 6,2013 | 06:41PM
NanakuliBoss wrote:
Pajama clowns, manic and cereal should be given chopsticks and sent to North Korea.
on April 6,2013 | 09:58PM
allie wrote:
not at all. We should end the foolish war games at once and have China and Russia broker talks. Real lives are at stake. Hawaii's economy will tank again if war breaks in Korea. Hawaii thrives on other people's misery as Inouye well knew. When tensions are high and the military must go to Asia it helps Hawaii. What a horrible place this must be. It is just a bastion of US imperialism. In that respect, I agree with the Sovereignty folks.
on April 7,2013 | 08:44AM
808comp wrote:
They should just go ahead with the test. The feeling towards the US by North Korea is not going to change no matter when we have the tests.
on April 7,2013 | 06:27AM
Ronin006 wrote:
This is the first time I have ever agreed with all comments. The US blinked. Big mistake. The Obama administration has given North Korea great fodder for its propaganda.
on April 7,2013 | 08:13AM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
I bet the Norks will now go ahead with their test.
on April 7,2013 | 08:39AM
allie wrote:
Obama should stop saying what he is doing, has done or will do. He can reassure allies in private
on April 7,2013 | 01:33PM
ehowzit wrote:
on April 7,2013 | 02:02PM
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