The United States is readying a “shield” to protect itself from “low-level” threats from North Korea, which has conducted multiple nuclear and ballistic missile tests this year, according to President Obama.
“One of the things that we have been doing is spending a lot more time positioning our missile development systems, so that even as we try to resolve the underlying problem of nuclear development inside of North Korea, we’re also setting up a shield that can at least block the relatively low-level threats that they’re posing now,” Obama said in an interview with “CBS News” that aired Tuesday.
The comments suggest the U.S. is moving ahead with plans to deploy a new missile defense system in South Korea.
American diplomats have tried to assuage Chinese concerns about the system. South Korea is a regional rival and Beijing is worried it would pose a threat to Chinese national security.
But Obama said the U.S. does not want to take any chances with “erratic” North Korea and its leader, Kim Jong-un, whom he described as “personally irresponsible.”
“North Korea is a massive challenge,” Obama said. “Our first priority is to protect the American people and our allies — Republic of Korea, Japan — that are vulnerable to the provocative actions that North Korea is engaging in.
“They are erratic enough — their leader is personally irresponsible enough — that we don’t want them getting close,” he continued. “But it’s not something that lends itself toward an easy solution.”