U.S. to strengthen missile defense against North Korea

The Pentagon announced on Friday that it will spend $1 billion to add 14 interceptors to a missile defense system in Alaska to respond to faster-than-anticipated progress on nuclear weapons and missiles by North Korea.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said he is determined to protect the U.S. Homeland. Hagel acknowledged the interceptors already in place have had poor test performances, Associated Press reports.

"We will strengthen our homeland defense, maintain our commitments to our allies and partners, and make clear to the world that the United States stands firm against aggression," Hagel said, according to Associated Press.

The 14 new interceptors will be installed at Fort Greely, Alaska, which is already home to 26 interceptors in underground silos operated by soldiers at Greely and Colorado Springs, Colo. The interceptors are meant to deploy a kill vehicle to lock onto the targeted warhead and destroy it by ramming into it at high speed.

Hagel also said the Pentagon plans to place additional radar in Japan to provide early warning of a North Korean missile launch and to improve missile tracking.

In December, Pyongyang launched a rocket to put a satellite into space and demonstrated mastery of some of the technologies required to produce a long-range nuclear missile. In April, North Korea publicly displayed a road-mobile intercontinental ballistic missile.

During the Pentagon news conference, Navy Adm. James Winnefeld, Jr., the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the ICBM is thought to be able to reach U.S. territory, according to Associated Press.