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White House Opposes House Missile-Defense Moves

By Sebastian Sprenger

Global Security Newswire

A Patriot Advanced Capability 3 interceptor is launched from Omelek Island during a test in October 2012. The White House this week rejected several missile-defense initiatives proposed by the Republican-controlled House. A Patriot Advanced Capability 3 interceptor is launched from Omelek Island during a test in October 2012. The White House this week rejected several missile-defense initiatives proposed by the Republican-controlled House. (U.S. Missile Defense Agency photo)

Several defensive and offensive missile-themed provisions that originated in the Republican-controlled House have drawn opposition from the White House.

The Obama administration decried as too risky and too expensive a push by lawmakers to accelerate the deployment to Poland of a land-based version of the Aegis missile defense system by sometime in 2016, and short-range antimissile capabilities by late 2014.

House missile-defense advocates had inserted language to that effect into the fiscal 2015 defense authorization bill. The legislation is expected to be considered on the House floor this week.

Meant by its supporters as a counterweight to Moscow's recent moves, the speedier fielding of defensive systems would "not change Russia's security calculation in Europe," the White House argued in a Monday statement of administration policy.

U.S. officials also fear that short-range antimissile weaponry deployed to Poland would "limit the ability of the United States to meet its worldwide operational missile defense requirements."

The White House also opposed bill language that would force the Pentagon to keep existing intercontinental ballistic missile silos available for possible use. The provision in question was spearheaded by lawmakers from states hosting these facilities.

"While it is the president's determination that 50 of the current 450 Minuteman 3 silos will remain in a non-deployed -- warm -- status, this provision would tie the hands of all presidents with respect to force structure through [February] 2021," the statement of administration policy reads.

Officials lamented as "premature and potentially wasteful" language to set aside $20 million for the planning and design of an East Coast missile field of long-range interceptors. Lawmakers had inserted to provision with an eye toward boosting the defensive capability against a potential attack from North Korea and elsewhere.

The Pentagon did not request money for an East Coast site in its fiscal 2015 budget proposal. Defense officials have said they remain unsure if such a site is necessary.

NTI Analysis

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    The James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies has created a series of 3D models of ballistic and cruise missiles for the Nuclear Threat Initiative.

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