Amid escalating tension in the Korean peninsula, the US on Wednesday said it has devised a counter-provocation plan along with its allies to respond to North Korea's bellicose rhetoric and provocative actions.
"We have plans in place with our South Korean allies, and naturally we hope never have to put any of these plans into place," Pentagon press secretary George Little said, adding that the plan is led by South Korea's joint chiefs of staff.
North Korea has declared a "state of war" with South and warned that US bases in Hawaii and Guam would be targeted in what could turn into "an all-out war, a nuclear war".
"The new counter-provocation plan formalises bilateral consultations to coordinate efforts between the United States and the Republic of Korea to respond to DPRK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) provocations," Little said.
"This plan improves our combined readiness posture and allows immediate and decisive response to any North Korean provocation," he said without disclosing the details.
Little said the US has options at its disposal to respond effectively to any North Korean provocation. "The goal is to protect peace and stability on the peninsula."
Responding to questions, he clarified that the sea-based X-band radar is not at sea in response to North provocations.
"The SBX is underway," Little said. "They're undergoing semiannual system checks. Decisions about further deployments have not been made to this point."
The United States, he said, has a range of assets, a constellation of capabilities in the Asia Pacific region that can help defend against missile threats from North Korea.
"Those assets also help protect our own interests, our own troops in the region, and other allies, to include Japan. So while I wouldn't get into the specifics of these particular missions, we have a full range of land- and sea-based capabilities to help respond to missile threats," he said.
However, based on North Korean preparedness, Little said there is no indication of an immediate threat from Pyongyang.
"We don't have any indication that that's imminent. But make no mistake about it: We have the assets available inside South Korea and elsewhere to help defend against the kinds of situations that you just described. I'm not going to get into the specifics of where our assets are in South Korea or elsewhere, but we stand ready to defend South Korea from external threats wherever they may originate," he said.