March 15, 2013
By Peter Brookes
According to FOX News, Team Obama has decided to deploy 14 additional ground-based interceptors (GBI) in Alaska and California against the North Korean nuclear and missile threat, reversing itself on numbers proposed by the Bush administration.
Better late than never, I suppose.
Though it highlights the failure of the Obama administration’s policies toward North Korea in the first term in general, it’s a good idea for a couple of reasons.
First, the threat is real. In the last few months, North Korea not only successfully tested a long-range ballistic missile, it also conducted a third, (most likely) more-advanced nuclear weapons test.
This means that Pyongyang is steadily advancing toward having a nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of reaching out and touching us with increasing precision.
That’s kind of troubling, when you consider the number of threats North Korea has made in recent days, including promises of a pre-emptive nuclear strike on the American homeland.
It’s never a good day when an enemy’s capabilities and intent come together.
Fortunately, the bulking up of U.S. missile defenses in the Pacific sends a strong message of deterrence to North Korea. It should also reassure regional allies and friends that are threatened by North Korean claims of turning their capitals into a “sea of fire.”
But the failure to tame the North Korean nuclear and missile programs also brings to the fore another similar security problem: Iran.
Tehran is also making great strides on its nuclear and long-range missile programs, a growing threat which remains unresolved after nearly 10 years of diplomatic negotiations with Iran.
While estimates differ, President Obama believes Iran is at least a year away from having the bomb. Of course, estimates are just that: estimates. They are sometimes incorrect.
Unfortunately, Team Obama cast aside the Bush administration’s Eastern European missile defense plan aimed at Iran in hopes of fostering the “reset” with Russia, which has failed miserably.
While the Pentagon will tell you the Pacific missile defense architecture will protect us from Iran that assertion is open to debate. At best, it is a limited defense against an Iranian long-range missile attack.
The Pentagon’s new missile defense plan for Iran won’t be fully active for years, lagging well behind the potential threat. That’s a huge problem.
But maybe — just maybe — North Korean provocations have opened the Obama administration’s eyes to the value of missile defense to our security and the challenges that are sure to come from Iran, hastening the development and deployment of more U.S. systems.
-Brookes is a Heritage Foundation senior fellow and a former deputy assistant secretary of defense.
First appeared in The Hill.
Senior Fellow, National Security Affairs
Read More >>
Request an interview >>
Please complete the following form to request an interview with a Heritage expert.
Please note that all fields must be completed.
Heritage's daily Morning Bell e-mail keeps you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.
The subscription is free and delivers you the latest conservative policy perspectives on the news each weekday--straight from Heritage experts.
The Morning Bell is your daily wake-up call offering a fresh, conservative analysis of the news.
More than 200,000 Americans rely on Heritage's Morning Bell to stay up to date on the policy battles that affect them.
Rush Limbaugh says "The Heritage Foundation's Morning Bell is just terrific!"
Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL) says it's "a great way to start the day for any conservative who wants to get America back on track."
Sign up to start your free subscription today!
The Heritage Foundation is the nation’s most broadly supported public policy research institute, with hundreds of thousands of individual, foundation and corporate donors. Heritage, founded in February 1973, has a staff of 275 and an annual expense budget of $82.4 million.
Our mission is to formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense. Read More
© 2014, The Heritage Foundation Conservative policy research since 1973