US may need stronger defense against North Korea missiles -admiral

US may need stronger defense against North Korea missiles -admiral

Speaking to reporters, Coons said the decision to brief every United States senator sent a positive signal about the administration's seriousness in addressing threats from North Korea.

After briefing senators in a highly unusual meeting at the White House on Wednesday, Pentagon chief Jim Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats issued a statement that toned down military rhetoric and urged the global community to help find a solution to North Korea's nuclear programme.

South Korea says key parts of a contentious USA missile defense system have been installed a day after rival North Korea showed off its military power.

Trump has discussed North Korea with United Nations ambassadors, increased US military presence in the region, and leaned on China to pressure Pyongyang. His testimony comes amid growing concerns over North Korea's advancing nuclear and missile programs. However China has been angered by USA deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system in South Korea, complaining that its radar can see deep into China and undermines its security. China, which is urging restraint on all sides, called for the U.S.to halt the maneuvers.

"North Korea's pursuit of nuclear weapons is an urgent national security threat and top foreign policy priority", the trio said, arguing that their lead efforts are at "tightening economic sanctions and pursuing diplomatic measures". "Will he be treating this as a stunt, is that the approach that he is bringing the briefing or will this be a serious conversation about North Korea?"

According to the Yonhap news agency, the parts include two or three launchers, intercept missiles and a radar.

South Korea said that unspecified parts of THAAD were installed.

China, North Korea's biggest backer, is responsible for about 85% of North Korea's external trade and provides a similar amount of their energy imports.

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On the same day, a United States guided-missile submarine docked in South Korea.

The Trump administration said on Wednesday it aimed to push North Korea into dismantling its nuclear and missile programs through tougher worldwide sanctions and diplomatic pressure, and remained open to negotiations to bring this about.

In a joint statement, Secretary of State Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats did not explicitly point to possible military action.

Earlier on Wednesday, Admiral Harry Harris, who heads the Pacific Command, said the USA wants to bring North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un to "his senses" and welcomed efforts by China to defuse tensions.

The Global Times, China's state-run media outlet, wrote that Beijing would consider a military response to an American surgical strike against North Korean nuclear facilities to be "unnecessary".

China, which has grown increasingly frustrated with North Korea, its ally, and Russian Federation see the system's powerful radars as a security threat.

Just weeks after Trump took office, North Korea test-fired a medium-range ballistic missile, on February 11.

Harris said the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system being deployed in South Korea would be operational in the coming days, bolstering the ability to defend the US ally and the 28,500 USA troops stationed there. It also launched a long-range rocket past year that delivered a satellite into orbit, which Washington, Seoul and others saw as a banned test of missile technology.

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