U.S. to beef up missile defense against North Korea, Iran

Updated 12:55 AM EDT, Sat March 16, 2013

Story highlights

Steps to expand missile defenses will cost $1 billion

Defense Secretary Hagel says 14 more missile interceptors will be deployed by 2017

NEW: N. Korea rocket launch, nuke test, mobile missile and threats prompt action

U.S. to work with Japan to increase radar capability to improve early warning, tracking

(CNN) —  

The United States will deploy additional ground-based missile interceptors on the West Coast as part of efforts to enhance the nation’s ability to defend itself from attack by North Korea, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced Friday.

Still relatively new in his post, the Pentagon chief told reporters that 14 additional interceptors to be installed by 2017 would bring the total to 44. It is part of a package of steps expected to cost $1 billion, officials said.

“The reason that we are doing what we are doing and the reason we are advancing our program here for homeland security is to not take any chances, is to stay ahead of the threat and to assure any contingency,” Hagel said.

North Korea says it’s the victim of ‘intensive’ cyberattacks

Friday’s move came after North Korea recently threatened a pre-emptive nuclear attack on South Korea and the United States in response to stepped-up U.N. Security Council sanctions over its latest nuclear test last month.