"If a missile leaves the launch pad we'll be prepared to respond upon direction of the president," Adm. Timothy Keating told ABC News.
North Korea announced earlier this week that it was preparing to shoot a communication satellite into orbit as part of it space program. The U.S., South Korea and other neighboring countries believe the launch may be a cover for a missile test-fire, saying the action would trigger international sanctions.
"There's equipment moving up there that would indicate the preliminary stages of preparation for a launch," Keating said. "So I'd say it's more than less likely."
North Korea lashed out at critics warning it not to test a long-range missile on Thursday, saying that it would punish those trying to disrupt its plan to send what it calls a satellite into orbit.
Keating said the U.S. military is ready to respond to the missile launch with at least five different systems: a naval destroyer, Aegis cruiser, radar system, space-based system and ground-based interceptor, ABC News reported.
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