Update at 3:09 p.m. ET. 14 Additional Interceptors:
The United States will deploy 14 additional ground-based missile interceptors (GBIs) to combat the nuclear attack threats from North Korea and Iran, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said today during a press briefing.
"The United States stands firm against aggression," Hagel said.
Hagel cited North Korea's recent test of a "rogue, mobile intercontinental ballistic missile" as a reason to beef up the United States' missile defense system. In addition to the GBIs, the United States will also add one more radar in Japan and is conducting environmental studies to determine the feasibility of another interceptor missile site.
"The American people expect us to protect them," Hagel said, adding that they also expect them to do it in a cost-effective manner.
Hagel was asked if he was confident that the interceptor missiles could stop a nuclear weapon from striking the U.S.
He said that before the 14 additional interceptors are deployed, the U.S. will do additional testing.
However, he said, "the American people should be assured our interceptors are effective."
Hagel said they expect the interceptors to be deployed by 2017. Thirty of them are already deployed in California and Alaska.
Our Original Post Continues:
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel is set to announce that the United States will beef up its missile defense system in response to nuclear attack threats from North Korea, Reuters, Fox and CNN are reporting quoting an unnamed "defense official."
CNN reports Hagel will say that the U.S. will deploy "14 additional ground-based missile interceptors on the U.S. West Coast." Reuters reports the U.S. will bolster its missile defense in Alaska.
As we've reported, this has been a week of "inflamed rhetoric from North Korea," which has unilaterally scrapped the 1953 armistice that ended open warfare on the peninsula and threatened a preemptive nuclear strike on the U.S.
Scott wrote a piece over the weekend that tries to gauge the credibility of North Korea's threats. The bottom line: Its conventional weapons are woefully out of date, but we know little about its nuclear capabilities.
Said Victor Cha, the Korea Chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies:
"The bottom line is that we just don't know where Pyongyang's capabilities lie. These tests might represent lighter and smaller weapons.
"The North could be lying about that, but then again, maybe they aren't."
George Little, the Pentagon spokesman, tweeted that Hagel would "make missile defense announcement this afternoon at the Pentagon." That announcement is scheduled for 3 p.m.
Update at 2:26 p.m. ET. 'Stay Ahead Of The Threat':
The AP has now joined the fray, reporting the Pentagon intends to add 14 interceptors to the "30 already in place in California and Alaska."
This, the wire service reports, is in line with what James Miller, defense undersecretary for policy, said in a speech on Tuesday.
"As we think about our homeland missile-defense posture, we do not have a 'just-in-time' policy," Miller said, according to the AP. "Our policy is to stay ahead of the threat and to continue to ensure that we are ahead of any potential future Iranian or North Korean ICBM (intercontinental ballistic missile) capability."