Washington, Feb.27 (ANI): The Pentagon has said that it is prepared to shoot down a North Korean missile or rocket if it receives such orders from US President Barack Obama.
"If a missile leaves the launch pad we'll be prepared to respond upon direction of the president," Fox News quoted the head of the U.S. Pacific Command, Admiral Timothy Keating as telling ABC News.
North Korea announced earlier this week that it was preparing to shoot a communication satellite into orbit as part of it space program.
The U.S., South Korea and other neighboring countries believe the launch may be a cover for a missile test-fire, saying the action would trigger international sanctions.
North Korea has lashed out at critics warning it not to test a long-range missile, saying that it would punish those trying to disrupt its plan to send what it calls a satellite into orbit.
"If the puppet warmongers infringe upon our inviolable dignity even a bit ... we will not only punish the provokers but reduce their stronghold to debris," the committee said in a statement carried by the country's official Korean Central News Agency.
Keating said the U.S. military is ready to respond to the missile launch with at least five different systems: a naval destroyer, Aegis cruiser, radar system, space-based system and ground-based interceptor.
The latest harsh words from Pyongyang came as U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced plans to send her new envoy on North Korea to meet with negotiators in Asia trying to revive stalled nuclear disarmament talks.
Kim Myong Gil, minister to the North's U.N. mission in New York, said his country retained the right to launch a satellite into space, and that the North's space program is not up for any negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang.
He also said the country is facing dire energy shortages and must develop nuclear power as a source of energy.
The launch of the Taepodong-2 will most likely take place around the first week in March, around the time of elections for the North's rubber-stamp parliament, said Rodger Baker, director of East Asia analysis at the global intelligence company STRATFOR.
The long-range Taepodong-2 missile is believed capable of reaching Alaska. Some experts think the North is preparing to test an advanced version that could reach the western continental U.S. (ANI)