SHOTLIST:

Pool - AP Clients Only

Washington, DC - April 9, 2013

1. SOUNDBITE: (English) Senator Carl Levin, Senate Armed Services Committee:

"Are you satisfied that we would be ready if there were such a limited military action from North Korea?

2. SOUNDBITE: (English) Admiral Samuel Locklear, commander of U.S. Pacific Command:

"I am satisfied that we are ready today sir, yes."

3. SOUNDBITE: (English) Senator John McCain, Republican - Arizona:

"Do you believe that we have the ability to intercept a missile if the North Korean's launch a missile as is widely reported that they would do in coming days?"

4. SOUNDBITE: (English) Admiral Samuel Locklear, commander of U.S. Pacific Command:

"I believe we have the credible ability to defend the homeland, to defend Hawaii, to defend Guam, to defend our forward deployed forces and defend our allies."

5. SOUNDBITE: (English) Senator John McCain, Republican - Arizona:

"Do we have the capability to intercept a missile if the North Koreans launch within the next several days?"

6. SOUNDBITE: (English) Admiral Samuel Locklear, commander of U.S. Pacific Command:

"We do."

7. SOUNDBITE: (English) Senator John McCain, Republican - Arizona:

"Would you recommend such action?"

8. SOUNDBITE: (English) Admiral Samuel Locklear, commander of U.S. Pacific Command:

"If the missile in the defense of the homeland I would certainly recommend that action and if it were in defense of our allies I would recommend that action."

9. SOUNDBITE: (English) Admiral Samuel Locklear, commander of U.S. Pacific Command:

"An impetuous young leader continues to focus on provocation rather than on his own people."

STORYLINE:

U.S. defenses could intercept a ballistic missile launched by North Korea, the top U.S. military commander in the Pacific said Tuesday as the relationship between the West and the communist government hit its lowest point since the end of the Korean War.

Admiral Samuel Locklear, commander of U.S. Pacific Command, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that Kim Jong Un, the country's young and still relatively untested new leader, has used the past year to consolidate his power.

The admiral said Pyongyang's pursuit of nuclear weapons and long-range ballistic missiles represents a clear threat to the United States and its allies in the region.

During an exchange with Republican Senator John McCain Locklear said the U.S. military has the capability to thwart a North Korean strike, but he said a decision on whether a missile should be intercepted should be based on where it is aimed and expected to land.

"I believe we have the ability to defend the homeland, Guam, Hawaii and defend our allies," said Locklear, who added that it wouldn't take long to determine where a missile would strike.

Locklear concurred with McCain's assessment that the tension between North Korea and the West was the worst since the end of the Korean War in the early 1950s.

But the admiral insisted that the U.S. military and its allies would be ready if North Korea tried to strike.

He said North Korea is keeping a large percentage of its combat forces along the demilitarized zone with South Korea, a position that allows the North to threaten U.S. and South Korean civilian and military personnel.

Increasingly bellicose rhetoric has come from Pyongyang and its leader, with North Korea urging foreign companies and tourists to leave South Korea and warning that the countries are on the verge of a nuclear war.

The U.S. has moved two of the Navy's missile-defense ships closer to the Korean peninsula, and a land-based system is being deployed to the Pacific territory of Guam.

The U.S. also called attention to the annual U.S.-South Korean military exercise that included a practice run over South Korea by B-2 stealth bombers.