Ground-based interceptors will be sent to Guam as the US scrambles to reinforce its Pacific missile defences against rising threats from North Korea.

The Pentagon said it would send ground-based THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) missile-interceptor batteries to protect military bases in Guam. The US territory is one of the key US military bases in the Asia Pacific and home to 6,000 American military personnel, submarines and bombers, reports AFP.

Two Aegis anti-missile destroyers were already deployed in the region after US F-22 Raptor stealth fighters and B-2 bombers were also dispatched in South Korea.

Angered by the show of the US’ deterrence capability, North Korea turned its hard-line rhetoric up a notch.

“The moment of explosion is approaching fast,” the Korean People’s Army general staff said in a statement on Wednesday. “The merciless operation of our revolutionary armed forces in this regard has been finally examined and ratified,” he said.

US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Pyongyang’s increasingly bellicose threats represented a “real and clear danger” to the United States and to its allies South Korea and Japan, reports AFP.

“We take those threats seriously,” he said. “I think we have had measured, responsible, serious responses to those threats”.