March 15, 2013 - (By M. Alex Johnson, staff writer, NBC News) - Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will announce Friday that the U.S. is deploying 14 new ground-based missile interceptors, probably in Alaska, defense officials told NBC News. The officials didn't say specifically why the interceptors were being deployed, but the announcement comes as North Korea has been making bellicose threats to void the armistice that ended the Korean War and launch a nuclear attack on the U.S.
The U.S. and South Korea began annual military drills this week despite the North Korean threats.
Hagel will make the announcement at a briefing scheduled for 3 p.m. ET, the officials said. The U.S. is protected from some intercontinental ballistic missiles by a ground-based midcourse defense of interceptors in Alaska and California, which are designed to launch and stop incoming missiles directly.
The new interceptors have been under construction at Fort Greely, an Army launch site about 100 miles southeast of Fairbanks, Alaska, and are likely to be based there, the officials said.