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U.S. moves sea-based radar to Western Pacific Ocean to monitor N. Korea
By Kim Eun-jung
SEOUL, April 2 (Yonhap) -- Amid escalating tensions on the Korean Peninsula, the United States has moved a sea-based radar platform closer to the North Korean coast to monitor Pyongyang's military moves in the wake of its threats to target the U.S. mainland and Pacific bases, multiple military sources in Seoul said Tuesday.

   The U.S. military has sent the Sea-Based X-Band Radar (SBX-1) based in Hawaii to the Western Pacific Ocean to better monitor potential attempts from North Korea to launch a long-range missile, they said.

   The advanced radar is a floating platform and has the ability to search and track targets, communicating with interceptor missiles at its overseas base that can shoot down a target missile.


Sea-Based X-Band Radar is a floating platform that has the ability to search and track targets as far as 5,000 kilometesr. (Yonhap file photo)

Seoul defense officials confirmed the movement of the key U.S. military asset, refuting some local reports that said the radar platform was moving toward the eastern coast of the Korean Peninsula.

   "As SBX-1 has a range of 2,000-5,000 kilometers, it doesn't have to come close to the Korean Peninsula," a military source spoke on the condition of anonymity.

   While the U.S. recently sent its advanced stealth jets, including F-22 and B-2 bombers, for a joint military drill underway in the South in a show of force against Pyongyang, the decision to move the radar is not part of the ongoing exercise, the source said.

   Pyongyang has threatened to strike the U.S. mainland and bases in the Pacific in response to the participation of nuclear-capable B-52 and B-2 stealth bombers in the exercise.

   The U.S. Navy also shifted a guided-missile destroyer in the Pacific to waters off of the peninsula in the wake of ongoing rhetoric from North Korea, another source said, without elaborating on its location.

   The USS McCain, which is capable of intercepting and destroying a missile, was dispatched to the position ahead of an impending North Korean rocket launch in December 2012.

   Despite harsh rhetoric from Pyongyang, North Korean military forces have not yet shown large-scale movements or signs of firing off a missile, South Korean Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok said.

   On Saturday, the North announced it had entered a "state of war" with South Korea and warned that all cross-border issues would be dealt with in a wartime manner. North Korea's rubber-stamp parliament officially announced the communist country's status as a nuclear weapons state and appointed an economic expert as its new prime minister.

   The two Koreas technically remain at war as the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a cease fire instead of a peace treaty. About 28,500 American forces are stationed in South Korea.