U.S. national security adviser John Bolton on Tuesday linked the deployment of intermediate-range ballistic missiles (IRBMs) in Asia to protecting America's allies in the region — including Japan — despite Chinese warnings it would take retaliatory countermeasures.

Bolton said that any U.S. deployment of the missiles would be a defensive move as China continues to amass a large arsenal of weapons that put American and Japanese military bases and facilities within striking distance.

"We're talking only about defending our deployed forces, our allies in South Korea, Japan and elsewhere," Bolton said in an interview with Fox News. "It's China that's built up its military forces and posed a threat."