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Pentagon Sees No Reason For East Coast Missile Interceptor Site

The U.S. Defense Department on Thursday said there existed neither the need nor the funds to establish on the Eastern U.S. seaboard a third ballistic missile interceptor site, The Hill reported (see GSN, May 31).

The House of Representatives' fiscal 2013 defense authorization bill includes language mandating establishment of the installation and approves $100 million to fund the study of possible locations.

Pentagon spokesman Capt. John Kirby told reporters the department had not budgeted for any such project. "It's not programmed for in the budget we just submitted back in February. We (just) don't believe we need it right now."

On Wednesday, Strategic Command chief Gen. Robert Kehler said the Pentagon was weighing various alternatives for enhancing mainland U.S. missile defenses, including fielding ballistic missile interceptors on the East Coast.

Kirby sought to minimize Kehler's remarks. "Certainly it's something that's in consideration, but ... we don't believe we need that kind of a capability right now."

"There (is) a broad swath of things that they are looking at," the spokesman said. A possible East Coast interceptor site is "just one of them."

The Air Force general said interceptors deployed in California and Alaska under the long-range Ground-based Midcourse Defense system were principally focused on protecting Hawaii, Alaska, and the West Coast from possible North Korean strategic missile attacks. 

Republican House lawmakers are calling for an East Coast interceptor site in order to protect the country from the evolving Iranian ballistic missile threat, which presumably would come from the opposite direction of a North Korean missile attack. Tehran is understood to not presently possess any ballistic missiles that can travel further than 800 miles (Carlo Munoz, The Hill, May 31).

Note to our Readers

GSN ceased publication on July 31, 2014. Its articles and daily issues will remain archived and available on NTI’s website.

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