Trump Announces Expansion Of U.S. Missile Defense
President Donald Trump has announced that the United States will develop new technologies — including in space — to acquire unrivaled missile-defense capabilities and maintain an advantage over adversaries such as Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea.
His comments were part of the results of a U.S. missile-defense review — the first since 2010 — that Trump unveiled at the Pentagon on January 17.
Speaking after acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, Trump said the U.S. goal was simple: “that we can detect and destroy” any incoming missile launched against the United States “anywhere, any time, any place.”
Trump mentioned increased threats from hypersonic and cruise missiles with upgraded abilities that Washington needs to counter.
He said his call for an expanded missile-defense system would better protect the United States.
Trump said a new strategy would include a “space-based defense layer of new technologies, such as sensors that could detect, track, and destroy incoming enemy missiles.”
The space-based shoot-down technology is similar to what U.S. President Ronald Reagan suggested in his “Star Wars” initiative in the 1980s.
Trump said the United States’s space-defense capability would “ultimately be a very, very big part of our defense — and our offense.”
Shanahan said before Trump that competitors such as Russia and China were pursuing new missiles that are “harder to see, harder to track, and harder to defeat.”
He also said that Washington was not interested “in keeping pace with potential threats, but in outpacing them.”
Shanahan added that North Korea’s missiles were a “significant concern.” The comments come as North Korean envoy Kim Yong Chol is expected in Washington for talks with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo about Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program on January 18.
Though he didn’t mention Russia or China during his speech, Trump specifically named Iran and it’s effort to develop ballistic missiles with ever-increasing ranges.
The Missile Defense Review report mentioned that Iran’s “desire to have a strategic counter to the United States could drive it to field an [Intercontinental Ballistic Missile].”
Trump also announced that the United States would deploy 20 new missile interceptors in Alaska as part of a new missile-defense strategy. There are already 44 such interceptors deployed at the Fort Greely U.S. base in Alaska.
A new missile-defense program that could defend “every city in the United States” would be developed, he said.
Trump pledged to share all new technology and missile-defense systems with U.S. allies but added that they must pay more for U.S.-sponsored security of their countries.
“We are going to be with NATO 100 percent, but [other countries] are going to have to step up [and pay for defense],” he said.
Viktor Bondaryov, the chairman of the Defense and Security Committee in Russia’s upper house of parliament, said “an additional layer of space-based sensors to detect missiles can be viewed as a component of a policy of increasing tensions.”
He added that the Russian position was clear.
“Under no circumstances should attack weapons be based in space. This is fraught with catastrophe.
With reporting by AP, Reuters, and Interfax
Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.
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