- 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 their 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 missile.
- 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 2009).
- Adm. 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 Defense
- 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 ABL 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.