Unresolved Issues Hang Over U.S. Missile Shield
By Sandra Erwin
August 6, 2013
For the second year in a row, lawmakers will be squabbling this fall over if and when the United States should shore up its defenses against North Korean and Iranian ballistic missiles.
The lightning rod in this debate is a Republican-led proposal to build a new ground-based missile interceptor site on the U.S. East Cost. Proponents contend that current sites, based in Alaska and California, do not provide enough coverage against a future possible attack by Iran, which is reportedly developing intercontinental ballistic missiles that could target the United States.
The deployment of a new site — endorsed by the House in its version of the 2014 defense authorization bill — is one of several controversial items that the Senate will take up in the coming months.
A confluence of trends and factors — Pentagon budget cuts, competing demands for homeland and overseas missile defense systems, poor test results of U.S. ground-based interceptors, and a toxic political environment — makes it a safe bet that an East Coast site or any significant enhancements to the nation’s missile shield systems will be deferred years into the future, possibly into the next administration.
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