Fox News on March 15, 2013, reported that U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel unveiled a $1 billion Pentagon plan to beef up missile defense in response to threats from North Korea, saying part of the plan would be to explore three new sites for ground-based interceptors. Excerpts below:
One of the potential sites would be at Alaska’s Fort Greely, which already is home to missile silos. The other two potential locations haven’t been disclosed but would be somewhere on the East Coast.
Under the plan the Pentagon would commit at least 14 additional ground-based interceptors to Fort Greely and send an additional radar system to Japan, with a cost for the project estimated at just under $1 billion. It is expected to be “in place” by 2017.
The announcement follows a recent threat from Pyongyang of a “pre-emptive” nuclear strike on the United States. Officials are signaling that they are taking North Korea’s young, new ruler, Kim Jong Un, seriously.
The extra interceptors on the West Coast, designed to counter attacks from an intercontinental ballistic missile, would bring the total number of interceptors to 44, a plan originally proposed by the Bush administration.
An Obama administration official also tells Fox News that the increase in interceptors is a logical response to an evolving threat from North Korea…
This official says the North Korean threat is much different from what it was in 2009. Along with the continued testing of nuclear weapons and longer-range delivery systems, the North Koreans have advanced their mobile missile capability, even within the last six to eight months.
“What we were defending against (from North Korea) four years ago was a single rogue missile, now with the mobile missile developing you have got to be able to counter multiple missile threats … so you have to expand your capability.”
“Sec. Hagel’s announcement is a step in the right direction but does not go far enough to address the threat from Iran which, according to the Department of Defense, could test an Intercontinental ballistic missile as early as 2015,” Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., said in a statement.
Whether intentional or not, the announcement also coincides with 30th anniversary of President Ronald Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative speech. The nation’s first ground-based interceptors were set up in 2002 under President George W. Bush.