[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/03/29/art.bogates0329.gi.jpg caption="Defense Secretary Gates said Sunday that the Obama administration is prepared to shoot down a North Korean missile if the country develops the capability to reach Hawaii or the Western U.S."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - There is little doubt that a planned North Korean rocket launch next month is designed to bolster that country's military capability, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Sunday.
He also indicated that the U.S. military could be prepared to shoot down a North Korean missile if the rogue regime develops the capability to reach Hawaii or the western continental United States in a future launch.
The North Korean government says it will launch a commercial satellite atop a rocket sometime between April 4 and April 8.
"I don't know anyone at a senior level in the American government who does not believe this technology is intended as a mask for the development of an intercontinental ballistic missile," Gates said during an appearance on "Fox News Sunday."
Gates noted that while the United States believes it is North Korea's "long-term intent" to add a nuclear warhead to any such missile, he "personally would be skeptical that they have the ability right now to do that."