GOP Lawmaker Defends Proposal for East Coast Interceptor Site

WASHINGTON -- A well-placed Republican lawmaker on Monday doubled down on calls from within his party to build a new missile defense site on the U.S. East Coast, arguing that such a facility would augment the country's capacity to respond to potential long-range missile strikes from Iran or North Korea.

Republicans pushed into law a mandate for a Defense Department study of options for establishing a third Ground-based Midcourse Defense system interceptor site to complement existing installations in Alaska and California. At least two of the possible studied locations for the site must be on the East Coast.

The administration's plan to field additional interceptors at the Alaska site is on its own "insufficient for full protection of the United States," Representative Michael Turner (R-Ohio) wrote in a commentary on the "Real Clear Politics" website.

The Defense Department has questioned the need for third facility. A GOP offer to provide $250 million in additional fiscal 2014 funds for the study received a brush-off this month from Vice Adm. James Syring, who heads the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency, and Assistant Defense Secretary Madelyn Creedon later said the United States is already "well protected" against long-range missile threats.

Turner, though, stressed that Syring and another top military official had indicated a third interceptor facility would expand the "battle space" for engaging missile threats. That additional space would provide more opportunity to shoot down an incoming Iranian or North Korean missile, the lawmaker quoted Syring and U.S. Northern Command head Gen. Charles Jacoby as saying.

"The world is not becoming a safer place," wrote Turner, a member of the House Armed Services Committee. "That increased battle space and a clearly defined missile defense strategy are the defense which will continue to keep the homeland safe."

The legislator separately criticized Secretary of State John Kerry for suggesting in April that the United States could roll back certain antimissile deployments in East Asia if Beijing convinced North Korea to end its nuclear arms activities. China has threatened to build up its nuclear forces in response to U.S. missile defense operations on its periphery.

He also denounced the administration's cancellation of plans to develop an advanced sea-based missile interceptor for deployment in Europe.

The House Armed Services Committee is set this week to vote on the fiscal 2014 National Defense Authorization Act as well as potential amendments to the bill. The Obama administration sought roughly $9.2 billion for ballistic missile defense in the coming budget cycle.

May 20, 2013
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WASHINGTON -- A well-placed Republican lawmaker on Monday doubled down on calls from within his party to build a new missile defense site on the U.S. East Coast, arguing that such a facility would augment the country's capacity to respond to potential long-range missile strikes from Iran or North Korea.

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