North Korea flexed its muscles yet again: Reports from Seoul indicate that on February 27 North Korea test-fired several short-range missiles. The U.S. must expand its missile defense system because rogue states like North Korea and Iran are working to increase their missile capabilities and threaten the West and its allies.
Both Iran and North Korea have devoted special attention to the development of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). In fact, the countries have cooperated in their efforts to obtain ballistic missiles. An ICBM would give either of these nations the ability to strike the United States with a nuclear weapon.
Senator Kelly Ayotte (R–NH) appeared in a Fox Files special, “America’s Shield in the Sky,” reporting that “the Director of National Intelligence testified before the Armed Services Committee that Iran could have ICBM capability as soon as 2015.” Given recent developments by Iran as well as North Korea, the U.S. must expand its missile defense system in order to protect the American people.
It takes only 33 minutes for a missile launched from anywhere in the world to hit the United States. North Korea and Iran have openly called for “death to America.” A nation like North Korea would likely have no reservations about killing millions of Americans when they already starve their own people and force thousands into concentration camps.
The 9/11 attacks killed nearly 3,000 Americans. Like it or not, there are people who want to kill Americans and they have already proven that given the opportunity they will.
Instead of 3,000 Americans, next time it could be millions. A particularly disconcerting threat is that of an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack. Such an attack “occurs when a nuclear device is detonated high in the atmosphere.” This type of detonation would fry the U.S. power grid.
If North Korea or Iran gets ahold of an EMP weapon and an ICBM capable of delivering it, they would be able to disable all electronics in the continental U.S., effectively sending the U.S. back to the 19th century.
First, there would be no Facebook and no Twitter. Then, there would be no food and no clean water.
When Senator Ayotte asked, “If we are attacked and someone shoots an ICBM…at our country, don’t we want to be able to defend our country and shoot it down?” the answer seemed obvious. However, given the reduced funding of missile defense and the halt of the deployment of missile defense systems in Europe, the Obama Administration has placed the U.S. in a vulnerable position.
Despite these concerning developments, the U.S. can take measures to protect itself from an ICBM attack. A reversal of the Obama Administration’s current approach to missile defense would be the first step toward increasing American security.
Rebecca Robison is currently a member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, please click here.