Gates Us Can Shoot Down North Korean Missiles

06.02.09 | FL News Team

Americans need not fear a missile attack from North Korea. That assurance came from Defense Secretary Robert Gates Monday as he toured the U.S. missile defense system in Alaska.

While many experts doubt North Korea even has the capability to reach any part of the U.S. with a missile, Gates says if the capability is developed anything launched by Pyongyang can be stopped either by ground to air defenses in Alaska or by  interceptor missiles always ready for launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Many ships in the U.S. Naval fleet are also capable of a missile shoot-down and could be deployed off the North Korean coast if necessary.

In the 1960s as an Air Force officer Gates worked at an intercontinental ballistic missile base. Asked by reporters during his Alaska visit about how they work he said, "just make sure the pointy end is up."  

Gates' comments come as North Korea is preparing the launch of an ICBM with an estimated range, if everything works, of up to four-thousand miles. That would make the missile capable of reaching Alaska.

The country has launched two of those missiles so far. The first blew up almost as soon as it left the launch pad. The second fell into the Pacific Ocean when a third stage malfunctioned.