HONG KONG -- The United States' plans to beef up its missile defenses against North Korea are likely to inflame tensions that are running high over Pyongyang's nuclear program, China said Monday.
"Bolstering missile defenses will only intensify antagonism, and it doesn't help to solve the issue," Hong Lei, a spokesman for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said at a regular news briefing in Beijing.
The United States will deploy additional ground-based missile interceptors on the West Coast as part of efforts to enhance the nation's ability to defend itself from attack by North Korea, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced Friday.
The U.S. announcement came after North Korea recently threatened a pre-emptive nuclear attack on South Korea and the United States in response to stepped-up U.N. Security Council sanctions over its latest nuclear test last month.
The threat from the regime of young leader Kim Jong Un was part of a recent barrage of vitriolic statements, which included a vow to nullify the armistice agreement that stopped the Korean War in 1953.
Military and White House officials have said current U.S. missile defenses are adequate for the present level of threat, and President Barack Obama said in an interview with ABC News last week that he didn't think North Korea could carry out a missile attack on the United States.
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