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U.S. sends missile defense shield to Guam

WASHINGTON -- The Pentagon said yesterday it was deploying a missile defense shield to Guam to protect the United States and its allies in the region in response to increasingly hostile rhetoric from North Korea. The North renewed its threat to launch a nuclear attack on the United States.

The threat issued early Thursday Korea time by the Korean People's Army capped a week of psychological warfare and military muscle moves by both sides that have rattled the region.

Pyongyang said that America's ever-escalating hostile policy toward North Korea "will be smashed" by the North's nuclear strike and the "merciless operation" of its armed forces. It said its military has been cleared to wage an attack on the United States using "smaller, lighter and diversified nuclear" arms.

The Pentagon said the land-based Terminal High Altitude Area Defense System being sent to Guam would strengthen the Asia-Pacific region's protections against a possible attack.

The Pentagon had no immediate reaction to North Korea's latest statement, but earlier Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel labeled North Korea's rhetoric as a real, clear danger and threat to the United States and its allies. And he said Washington is doing all it can to defuse the situation, echoing comments a day earlier by Secretary of State John Kerry.

"Some of the actions they've taken over the last few weeks present a real and clear danger and threat to the interests, certainly of our allies, starting with South Korea and Japan and also the threats that the North Koreans have leveled directly at the United States regarding our base in Guam, threatened Hawaii, threatened the West Coast of the United States," Hagel said.

He said he believes that the United States has had a "measured, responsible, serious responses to those threats."

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