Secretary Chuck Hagel recently stated that the Department of Defense was conducting environmental impact studies for a potential ground based interceptor site within the U.S. The phrase may well serve as red meat for those whose concern for global warming includes that caused by nuclear detonation.
The Obama Administration decided in 2009 that the missile threat from countries like North Korea wasn’t significant, and mothballed 14 of the 44 antiballistic missile interceptors. With the recent escalation of tension from North Korea, the administration is reversing its decision. The course correction will cost approximately $200 million.
At the same time that the White House reversed its 2009 decision, it essentially repeated the same step by cancelling an upcoming phase of missile shield deployment in Europe. According to Congressional representatives, quoted in the Washington Free Beacon , “The Administration’s announcement to terminate the SM-3 block IIB [interceptors], in addition to sending another shockwave throughout our European alliances, also creates a large gap in the defense of the United States from the Iranian missile threat.” Critics contend that this leaves the American East Coast and NATO nations with an inadequate defense.
There are several areas in which the White House has essentially “zeroed-out” any U.S. ABM activity. Despite recommendations from various sources that the nation should have at least 1,000 space-based interceptors, the President is committed to not deploying any such devices at all.
The European based system would also provide deterrence for strikes against the East Coast of the United States. That same year, 2011, the U.S. announced a four-part plan to deploy an ABM shield.
Despite the growing threat, however, the White House has now announced that it is terminating key parts of that program. The decision to phase out part of the plan, as well as the President’s ongoing reluctance to provide appropriate funding for other missile defense needs, has not been received well. Particularly hard hit will be Eastern European governments.
The timing of the announcement, as Iran’s nuclear and missile programs approach critical mass and North Korea openly threatens an attack, is puzzling. But the problem is not isolated to those two nations.
The Washington Times reported last September that “China has become the world’s busiest builder of nuclear weapons…China has…completed a series of intercontinental missile tests that mark the start of a new era for China’s armed forces, one in which they deploy missiles with multiple warheads and penetration aids (MIRVs). Two apparently successful tests of the JL-2 submarine-launched ballistic missile signal that the two operational Type-94 (Jin class) nuclear missile submarines (of a fleet of five) may soon start strategic patrols. On land, China’s new DF-41 mobile ICBMs are soon expected to demonstrate MIRV capabilities and are estimates by some to be able to carry up to 10 warheads…”
Frequently, President Obama’s proposals for further U.S. nuclear disarmament only consider Russia’s arsenal, wholly disregarding the relatively new but equally dangerous threat from Beijing.
After an all-too brief hiatus, Russia has resumed its cold war stance, sending nuclear capable bombers off the west coast of the United States and over strategic locations of our Pacific forces. It has also had its nuclear subs patrol the American coastline. Gertz reports that in February, Moscow’s nuclear forces conducted a massive exercise testing the “transport of both strategic and tactical nuclear weapons near Europe,” the largest maneuver in two decades.
Despite these overtly threatening actions, Russia has vehemently opposed any US/NATO missile defenses, even though those planned would only have been effective against Iran (which, perhaps not coincidentally, has received nuclear technology assistance from Moscow.) The Obama administration has been excessively sensitive to Russia’s concerns, and critics have vehemently contended that the White House has subordinated missile defense to its quixotic quest for nuclear disarmament.
The world has taken notice of America’s sharply altered defense posture. Poland has requested assistance from France and Germany to assist in developing its own antimissile defense system. India has also developed its own system.
The conservative Heritage Foundation has countered the Obama Administration’s stance with a series of six recommendations:
1. Provide an average of $14 billion in funding for the next five years;
2. Expedite missile defense research, development, and testing;
3. Deploy layered missile defenses as soon as possible;
4. Pursue a space-based defensive component;
5. Increase coordination with U.S. allies; and
6. Adopt a realistic “protect and defend” strategy.