The U.S. has put Australia and other allies on alert that it is fully prepared to shoot down rockets launched by North Korea, the Daily Telegraph reported Tuesday.
Intelligence sources told the Australian daily the North could test-launch ballistic missiles around the birthday of nation founder Kim II-sung this week.
"The United States, which has a fleet headed to the Korean Peninsula, is understood to have notified Australia that it is fully prepared to shoot down these rockets," the report said. "The Australian-United States joint facility at Pine Gap monitors North Korean missile launches, and is on standby."
In a letter to the U.S. Senate the same day, Gen. Lori Robinson, the commander of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), said, "North Korea’s closed society and robust denial and deception capabilities challenge our ability to observe missile and nuclear test preparations, a concern that would be exacerbated in crisis or in wartime and complicate our ability to defend the U.S."
But Robinson said she is "confident" in the U.S.' ability to "defend against a limited long-range ballistic missile attack from North Korea."
The North has been testing a range of rockets and ballistic missiles in recent months and seems determined to build an intercontinental ballistic missile that could deliver a nuclear payload to the U.S. mainland.
The U.S. Navy strike group led by the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier is expected to reach waters near the Korean Peninsula as early as Saturday. It is escorted by an Aegis cruiser armed with SM-3 interceptors.
In addition, the U.S. is expected to deploy two or three more Aegis destroyers in the East Sea around Saturday.