North Korea unsuccessfully launched its Unha-3 missile in violation of the U.N. Security Council resolutions that preclude “any launch using ballistic missile technology.” Iran also has an aggressive ballistic missile program and is closer than ever to developing a nuclear weapon. This is clearly not the time to scale back the U.S. missile defense and nuclear weapons programs.
Ballistic missiles are weapons of terror, and they are terrifyingly devastating. Not only do they allow an adversary to deliver a devastating strike, but their mere possession allows them to threaten targets that the other state values. This might prevent and complicate an effective action again the adversary: Would the United States have been willing to take action against Saddam Hussein if he could launch a nuclear-tipped missile that would destroy San Francisco in 33 minutes?
To prevent such coercion, the U.S. should develop and advance a comprehensive layered missile defense system to protect its homeland, forward-deployed troops, and allies. Space-based missile defense is an essential part of the program. In addition, the U.S. should adopt the “protect and defend” strategic posture based on employing offensive and defensive forces and conventional and nuclear forces. This concept seems foreign to the Obama Administration.
The President recently indicated his willingness to trade missile defenses away after the November election, when he will have more “flexibility.” “On all these issues,” he whispered to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev,” but particularly missile defense, this—this can be solved, but it’s important for [Russian former and new president-elect Vladimir Putin] to give me space.”
With regard to U.S. nuclear weapons, the Obama Administration is not providing necessary funding for the modernization of the increasingly obsolescent nuclear weapons complex in violation of its commitments pursuant to its agreement regarding the New Strategic Arms Reductions Treaty.
As a result of this wrong-headed policy, the U.S. remains the only nuclear power in the world without a substantial nuclear weapons modernization program. In the current proliferated environment, this should be corrected quickly.