The Need for Missile Defense: Now More Than Ever
- North Korean Dreams: The development of the ballistic
missile program has been one of the top military priorities for
North Korea for almost 40 years. As a result, it now has the
largest ballistic missile program among all developing countries.
Not only does North Korea constantly seek to advance its own
ballistic missile capabilities, but it also shares ballistic
missile technology with other nations such as Iran.
- But Will Their Missiles Reach the U.S.?The April 4
so-called "satellite launch" demonstrated North Korea's latest
Taepo Dong-2 advancements. According to reports, the first stage of
the missile traveled 170 miles, and the second stage landed 790
miles east of Japan, a vast improvement upon their July 2006 test.
Fully functional, the Taepo Dong-2 has the capability to reach
Hawaii, Alaska, and potentially the west coast of the United
States, delivering a devastating payload.
Partners in Crime:Iran also has an active ballistic
missile program. Most of their technology is derived from Russian
and North Korean technology. Though the Iranian long-range
ballistic missile capability is still in its early development
phases, its successful satellite launch a month ago displays that
Iran has the capabilities necessary to develop a long-range
- General Kevin Chilton, Commander of the United States
Strategic Command:"[W]e have to look at both support -- in my
view, support -- to the regional combatant commanders, but certainly
defense of the United States of America. And so I think we need a
balanced missile defense program that goes forward that addresses
both those critical needs, both for our citizens at home and for
our deployed forces abroad" (Senate Armed Services Committee, March
- Admiral Michael Mullen, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of
Staff:"In view of the threats we face today and will face in
the future, I believe the United States should deploy components of
the ballistic missile defense system as soon as they become
available even as we improve their operational effectiveness"
(Senate Confirmation Hearing, July 2007).
Obama Blueprint for Missile
- Cuts, Cuts, Cuts:Secretary Gates has cut $1.4 billion
from the FY 2010 budget for missile defense. These cuts could place
the missile defense systems in Poland and the Czech Republic in
serious jeopardy. In addition, the Multiple-Kill Vehicle, the
second Airborne Laser prototype aircraft, and the remaining
interceptors for the deployed missile defense system at Fort
Greely, Alaska, will not receive funding.
The Bottom Line
- Do Not Cut Missile Defense:Since Obama took office, the
threat to America hasn't changed, nor has the need to defend the
American people. Yet the new Administration plans to significantly
cut and roll back a missile defense plan that has been in place for
years to protect us -- without having a serious national discussion
on this issue. Until that occurs, Congress should leave the missile
defense budget and program for 2010 fully funded.
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