WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Pentagon said on Tuesday that a second U.S. guided-missile destroyer had taken position in the western Pacific on a missile defense mission, as tensions rise over North Korea’s threats of war against the United States and its ally, South Korea.
The announcement is the latest confirmation of minor adjustments to the posture of the U.S. military, which is seeking to reassure allies in Seoul and Tokyo of American military capabilities to respond to any moves by Pyongyang.
U.S. defense officials announced on Monday that the USS John McCain, an Aegis-class guided-missile destroyer used for ballistic missile defense, was being put into position to operate off the Korean peninsula.
Pentagon spokesman George Little said on Tuesday the McCain had arrived at a “pre-determined location” in the western Pacific. He added that another destroyer, the USS Decatur, had also taken position in the western Pacific “to perform a missile defense mission as assigned by our combatant commander.”
“They (the McCain and the Decatur) will be poised to respond to any missile threats to our allies or our territory,” Little said.
The Pentagon denied reports that a floating, X-band radar was being deployed to the waters off Japan, saying no decisions had been made about what would be done with the radar once at-sea testing in the region was finished.
The radar is used to track an adversary’s missiles as part of a missile defense system.
“It’s incorrect to tie the (radar) at this point to what’s happening on the Korean peninsula right now,” Little said.
News of the latest U.S. move to bolster missile defenses around the Korean peninsula came as North Korea said on Tuesday it would revive a mothballed nuclear reactor able to produce bomb-grade plutonium.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the crisis over North Korea had gone too far and he appealed for discussion and negotiation. “Nuclear threats are not a game. Aggressive rhetoric and military posturing only result in counter-actions, and fuel fear and instability,” Ban, a South Korean, told a news conference during a visit to Andorra.
Reporting by Phil Stewart. Editing by Warren Strobel, Jackie Frank and Paul Simao