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TODAY   |  April 04, 2013

Pentagon deploying anti-ballistic system

In response to North Korea’s announcement that they will be deploying “small, light” nuclear strikes, the Pentagon has announced it is sending an anti-ballistic missile system to Guam. NBC’s Richard Engel reports.

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>> begin with the movement of a missing in north korea overnight. further escalating tensions in that region. this all comes less than a day after the u.s. announced plans to speed up its deployment of a missile defense system to guam . richard engel in seoul this morning. good morning to you.

>> reporter: good morning, matt. south korea says the north has moved this missile to its coast possibly for a test fire or deterrent. it seems to be a medium range missile capable of reaching japan, south korea , maybe guam , but not the united states . south korea 's defense minister says pyongyang has moved a missile with considerable range with north korea 's east coast . but it's a provocative step as today north korean state television says we formally inform the white house and the pentagon that the u.s. ever escalating policy and nuclear threats will be smashed by the will of the people , the military and cutting edge small light nuclear strike means. the pentagon announced it would deploy an antiballistic missile system like this one to guam in the pacific. just hours earlier, the u.s. secretary of defense criticized what he calls north korea 's dangerous rhetoric.

>> some of the actions they've taken over the last few weeks present a real and clear danger. we take those threats seriously.

>> but can the north attack the u.s.? u.s. officials tell nbc news north korea does have missile deliverable nuclear weapons , but with a range of about 1,000 miles unable to reach the united states . but seoul just across the border is certainly in range. but you wouldn't know it today. in south korea , there's absolutely no sign of public concern. and people here have some advice for americans, don't let north korea scare you, they say. it wants the attention. it wants to be feared.

>> reporter: when the 28, maybe 29-year-old north korean leader threatens nuclear war , u.s. officials are taking actions to be prepared.

>> outrageous comments from north korea and leadership from the decades, there's been bluster in the past. what's the difference in terms of the tone and context this time around?

>> reporter: i think what's different now, matt, is capability. the north koreans recently tested a nuclear device and now they are threatening to use it. these are not just empty words. the north koreans may not be able to launch a nuclear warhead to the united states , but they could launch one in the region that also has the potential leading to an armed escalation, a nuclear proliferation across asia. so this is a very serious threat. the south koreans, however, still think the north is bluffing, they are trying to attract concessions and recognition and they're not seeing signs on the ground that north korea is preparing for a major military offensive.

>> all right, richard engel in seoul this morning for us.