Kim Jong-un watched a military drill that marked the 85th anniversary of the establishment of the Korean People's Army

The US military’s top commander in the Pacific has said an advanced missile defence system in South Korea aims to bring North Korean leader Kim Jong-un “to his senses, not to his knees”.

Adm Harry Harris, head of US Pacific Command, told Congress the US would be ready “with the best technology” to defeat any North Korean missile threat.

The US has also deployed warships and a submarine to the Korean peninsula.

China argues that the US Thaad missile system will destabilise security.

Three people were taken to hospital after protesters clashed with police as the anti-missile system was being delivered to a former golf course in South Korea on Wednesday.

Tensions have been rising amid fears North Korea could be planning further missile or nuclear tests.

Speaking ahead of a classified briefing for senators at the White House, Adm Harris said the advanced missile defence system would be ready within the coming days.

He said he believed that North Korea would try to attack the US as soon as it had the military capabilities.

“With every test Kim grows closer to his goal, which is using nuclear weapons on US cities,” he told the House armed services committee in Washington DC.

“As [US President Donald] Trump and [Defence Secretary James] Mattis have said, all options are on the table,” he added.

Adm Harris said that the relationship between Mr Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping remained “positive and encouraging”.

“It is purely a defensive system. It is aimed north, not west,” he said, adding: “It poses no threat to China.”

Admiral Harry Harris prepares to testify before a House armed services committee hearing on
Admiral Harris told the committee that the US was ready to respond to any threat from North Korea

His comments come after China launched its second aircraft carrier in the latest sign of its growing military strength.

The as-yet unnamed ship was transferred into the water in the north-eastern port of Dalian, state media said. It will reportedly be operational by 2020.

The heated rhetoric between the US and North Korea has intensified in recent weeks.

China’s Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, has called for an end to US-South Korea war games and also a halt to North Korea’s nuclear development in order to reduce tensions in the region.

Foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang spoke out against the Thaad deployment. He told reporters: “It helps in no way to achieve the denuclearisation of the peninsula and regional peace and stability.”

The Trump administration has been urging China to rein in its ally, North Korea.

The Thaad (Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense) system is designed to intercept and destroy short and medium-range ballistic missiles during their final phase of flight.

“South Korea and the United States have been working to secure an early operational capability of the Thaad system in response to North Korea’s advancing nuclear and missile threat,” South Korea’s defence ministry earlier said in a statement.

Media captionThe US and South Korea also held live-fire drills this week