The United States is planning to build a new missile defence shield in Asia to contain threats from North Korea and counter China’s growing missile capabilities.A defensive array could include a new radar system in southern Japan and possibly another in South East Asia, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The news came after an unnamed US official told Jane’s Defence Weekly that China’s People’s Liberation Army tested an intercontinental ballistic missile on July 24 which has the range to strike any city in the United States.
The DF-41 missile can carry 10 separate nuclear warheads, each of which can be programmed to strike at a different target, the magazine reported.
The Pentagon is also concerned about China’s development of a new “carrier-killer” anti-ship missile that can strike at the US Pacific fleet.
These missiles, which have a range of 930 miles, are designed to prevent US ships from approaching the South China Sea, a key sphere of Chinese influence.
US Defence officials told the Wall Street Journal that the core of the new anti-missile shield would be a powerful early-warning radar, known as an X-Band, sited on a southern Japanese island. Discussions between Japan and the United States are currently underway.
The new X-Band would join an existing radar that was installed in northern Japan in 2006 and a third X-Band could be placed in South East Asia.
The resulting radar arc would cover North Korea, China and possibly even Taiwan. China currently has over 1,000 missiles pointed at Taiwan, and is likely to strenuously object to any interference from the US.
A spokesman for the Japanese Defence ministry declined to comment. A spokesman for the Pentagon told the newspaper that North Korea is the “immediate threat” that is “driving our missile defence decision making”.
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