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'US Defence System Ready To Counter North Korean Missiles'

America's controversial anti-missile system in South Korea is now operational, the US military says.

The Terminal High Altitude Defence (THAAD) system has "early capability" to defend against North Korean missiles, South Korean Defence Ministry spokesman Moon Sang Gyun said.

However, he did not say when Washington and Seoul expected THAAD to be operating fully.

The United States and South Korea say THAAD is crucial to counter North Korea's weapons advances.
When completed, it will consist of six truck-mounted launchers that can fire up to 48 interceptors toward incoming missiles detected by the system's x-band radar.

The North conducted two nuclear tests last year alone, and has been speeding up its development of new missiles, including solid-fuel rockets that can be fired from mobile launchers on land and from submarines.

 The THAAD battery had originally been due to enter operation by the end of the year.

President Trump says he is not ruling out military action against North Korea but has also expressed openness to a future meeting with its ruler Kim Jong Un, offering unusual praise for the third-generation dictator amid the nuclear tensions.

"If it would be appropriate for me to meet with him, I would absolutely, I would be honoured to do it," Mr Trump told Bloomberg News.

In an interview with CBS' Face The Nation, Mr Trump said Kim was obviously a "pretty smart cookie" as he took power in his 20s and held it despite "a lot of people" trying to take it away.

North Korea conducted another missile test on Saturday, its third launch in April alone, which reportedly failed soon after launch, and its Foreign Ministry said on Monday the country would speed up measures to bolster its nuclear programme "at the maximum pace".

A statement circulated by North Korea's United Nations Mission says the government is ready to respond to any option taken by the United States.

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