U.S. missile defense review calls North Korea ‘extraordinary threat’

Vastavam web: President Donald Trump unveiled a revamped U.S. missile defense strategy on Thursday that called North Korea an ongoing and “extraordinary threat,” seven months after he declared the threat posed by Pyongyang had been eliminated. The Missile Defense Review, which also detailed concerns about the burgeoning capabilities of Iran, Russia and China, was a broad examination of efforts to shield the United States from enemy missiles, including a push to develop space-based sensors and study the development of space-based weapons.

“Our goal is simple: To ensure we can detect and destroy any missile launched against the United States – anywhere, anytime, anyplace,” Trump said at the Pentagon as he unveiled the report. “While a possible new avenue to peace now exists with North Korea, it continues to pose an extraordinary threat and the United States must remain vigilant,” the report said.

For Trump, who is trying to revive efforts to persuade North Korea to abandon its nuclear arsenal, the report’s release came at an awkward moment. Senior North Korean envoy Kim Yong Chol was headed for Washington on Thursday for expected talks with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday and a possible encounter with Trump, a person familiar with the matter said. Trump wrote on Twitter after the June 2018 summit that there is “no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea.” It also called for investments in space-based sensors that can better detect and track incoming missiles, and perhaps counter super-fast hypersonic technology, an area in which China has made major advances.

“We are committed to establishing a missile-defense program that can shield every city in the United States. And we will never negotiate away our right to do this,” Trump added. Trump specifically mentioned Iran’s capabilities. The report said Iran possesses the largest ballistic missile force in the Middle East. “Its desire to have a strategic counter to the United States could drive it to field an ICBM,” the report said, referring to an intercontinental ballistic missile.

“We will not take any chances. We will only take action,” Trump said. The United States previously announced plans to increase the number of ground-based interceptors over the next several years, hiking the number positioned at Fort Greely, Alaska to 64 from 44. U.S. military officials have said American missile defenses are primarily designed to counter attacks from countries with more-limited arsenals like North Korea, which U.S. intelligence officials believe is still advancing its nuclear program despite a halt to missile launches last year.

The report underscored that point, but also acknowledged that in a war with a major power, the United States would use the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) defenses at its disposal. “The GMD system is designed to defend against the existing and potential ICBM threat from rogue states such as North Korea and Iran, but in the event of conflict, it would defend, to the extent feasible, against a ballistic missile attack upon the U.S. homeland from any source,” the report said.

Russia views U.S. missile defense advances as a threat. The chairman of Russia’s upper house defense and security committee, Viktor Bondarev, said after Trump’s announcement that the new U.S. missile-defense strategy would ramp up global tensions, according to Interfax news agency.