(CNN) – America and its allies are gearing up to defend against Kim Jong Un’s aggressive missile threat. U.S. and South Korean officials told CNN that American Aegis Warships will join South Korea and Japan to conduct anti-missile drills off the coast of Hawaii next month.
South Korea’s defense ministry says the warships, designed to shoot down longer-range missiles, won’t actually be targeting a missile that’s fired. According to South Korean media reports, they’ll be tracking a plane, standing in for a missile, sharing intelligence on its direction and trajectory. Perfecting their capability, if Kim attacks.
Thomas Karako, Center for Strategic & International Studies, said, “If one of them detects a missile-launch they can pass it off to the other country, if it’s headed their way.”
Analysts say this is a clear response to Kim’s aggressive nuclear and missile tests. He detonated a nuclear bomb in January, test-launched a long-range rocket a few weeks later, then last month he fired a ballistic missile from a submarine, and blasted a medium-range missile off a mobile launcher, a test that has experts worried.
Richard Fisher, International Assessment & Strategy Center, said, “With this Chinese-made truck, this missile has mobility. North Korea can take it to multiple locations, and launch practically undetected.”
A key question: If Kim launched multiple missiles simultaneously, could the U.S. and its allies shoot them down? Karako said, “With 1 or 2 or 3, we would have greater confidence. But with a greater number, a greater saturation, it becomes obviously more difficult.”
That’s just the threat from longer-range missiles. The most immediate threat to South Korea, and the 28,500 American troops there, is Kim Jong Un’s artillery, and short-range missiles, which wouldn’t be detected in advance.
Retired Gen. James ‘Spider’ Marks, CNN Military Analyst, said, “There is a no-warning scenario that keeps everybody awake at night. There’s very little you can do about it, other than maintain a really strong intelligence picture.”
As the military standoff simmers with North Korea, diplomatic tensions escalate. The state department issues a pointed warning to Americans: Don’t travel to North Korea!
The U.S. says it can’t directly negotiate the release of Americans detained in North Korea because it does not have formal diplomatic relations. It usually works through the Swedish embassy.