China, Russia to counter Donald Trump's controversial THAAD missile shield

The United States may need to strengthen its missile defenses, particularly in Hawaii, given the advancing threat from North Korea's missile and nuclear weapons programs, the top USA commander in the Pacific told Congress on Wednesday.

In a sign of growing anxiety, Trump invited all 100 members of the Senate to attend a White House briefing on Wednesday with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and Marine General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Harris, who has served in the Navy for 39 years, did not sugarcoat the situation on the Korean Peninsula.

The admiral says there's uncertainty within US intelligence agencies over how far along North Korea's nuclear and missile programs are.

"The first stage involves North Korea refraining from additional nuclear tests and the acceleration of its nuclear weapons program so that it is frozen and verified, and the second stage involves its complete dismantlement", he said.

In the past two weeks, Trump has ordered high-powered US military vessels, including an aircraft carrier, to the region in a show of force to deter North Korea from more nuclear and missile tests. The North on Tuesday conducted large-scale, live-fire artillery drills, witnessed by national leader Kim Jong Un, as a reminder of its conventional threat to US -allied South Korea.

America's Pacific forces commander, Adm. Harry Harris Jr., told Congress on Wednesday the system would be operational within days.

Harris says he has no doubt North Korea intends to develop a nuclear-tipped missile capable of striking the United States. Instead, they've said the administration's strategy focuses on increasing pressure on North Korea with the help of its main trading partner, China.

Harris said the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system being deployed in South Korea would be operational in the coming days, bolstering the ability to defend the USA ally, and the 28,500 US troops stationed there.

A USA submarine created to carry 150 Tomahawk cruise missiles entered a South Korean port on Tuesday as the USS Carl Vinson carrier group steamed towards the Korean waters in an effort to deter the North from a sixth nuclear test and more missile launches.

"What you see is a really an integrated effort to prioritize diplomatic and informational aspects of national power, but also what you'll see soon is using the economic dimension of national power as well as the military preparations that are underway", a senior administration official told reporters Wednesday afternoon, saying a "broad range of options" is on the table.

The Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system is being set up on a former golf course in Seongju amid protests that have seen demonstrators clash with police.

Graham then addressed the North Koreans directly: "In case North Korea's listening, none of us want to invade your country ..."

In Beijing, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said THAAD would upset the "strategic balance" in the region.

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