Newly installed Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced Friday that an additional 14 ground-based missile interceptors would be deployed in Alaska as a defensive measure against growing nuclear threats from North Korea and Iran.
The move increases existing missile interceptors in America by about 50%, bringing the total to 44 including four based in California. The new interceptors are projected to be fully deployed by 2017.
During Friday's Pentagon briefing, Hagel called the decision an effort to "make clear to the world that the United States stands firm against aggression."
"We will be able to add protection against missiles from Iran sooner while also proving protection against the threat from North Korea," Hagel said.
The announcement follows a month of turbulence spurred by North Korea's February 12th nuclear test, and the resulting sanctions by the U.N. Security Council. Earlier this week, the United States and South Korea went ahead with annual military drills, despite warnings from North Korea.
NBC Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent Andrea Mitchell spoke with former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright about the situation in North Korea on Wednesday.
"What we see now is a real rise in this bellicose rhetoric from this new leader," Mitchell said of Kim Jong-Un. "He's 28 years old, maybe he's trying to impress the military, and it's a show of force. But when I talk to top national security officials right now, they say they don't know if there could be an accident, a miscalculation, because in cancelling the armistice, and it's always very, very tense along that border there, he is permitting the possibility of any misguided member of the troops on either side leading to a shooting war, which would immediately involve the United States."
"You're absolutely right," Albright said. "I think it is a scary situation."
"The relationship between North and South Korea has always been tense, but you kind of get the sense at this point is we don't know enough about this young leader. And I think he's playing with fire. I think it is a dangerous situation. The United States has made very clear that we think it's a dangerous situation," Albright said.
Watch Andrea Mitchell's interview with former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright: