The Growing Threat of Ballistic Missiles
The Threat of Ballistic Missiles in Today's World
Nuclear proliferation around the world and the threat of a ballistic missile attack of some kind is mounting as more and more countries obtain ballistic and nuclear weapons technology. The ongoing threat toward America is also accelerating due to the fact that there are many rogue nations and terrorist organizations which either have or are seeking ballistic missiles and nuclear technology. The challenges of protecting America and its citizens for President Obama's administration are great. Fortunately, the United States has a proven technology to protect the country from incoming ballistic missiles that is in limited use today. As we proceed further into the new ballistic missile age where multiple countries have the capability of detonating a nuclear weapon, missile defense is a necessary to protect the United States and its allies and friends.
The Ballistic Missile Threat from Iran Continues to Grow
For the past several years, Iran has been aggressively working on their nuclear program with the help of other countries such as North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, and China. While Iran claims their nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, the facts have proven otherwise. It has become quite clear that their intent is to develop nuclear weapons. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad states on numerous occasions that he intends on using nuclear weapons capability as leverage to gain more respect among world leaders. He also threatened to destroy Israel. Iran has been working with North Korea to develop their space program, and specifically their space launch vehicle. Technology used in space launch vehicles is the same as in intercontinental-range ballistic missiles capable of reaching the territory of the United States. The Iranian Shahab-3 ballistic missile is capable of reaching areas of Southern Europe, as well as Israel and throughout the Middle East. Working with North Korea, Iran is developing three-stage ballistic missiles that would have the capability of reaching U.S. shores. America's only defense against incoming ballistic missiles from Iran or anywhere else will be an effective missile defense system. Once these weapons are launched, there is no other form of defense available to stop them from reaching the target.
The North Korean Ballistic Missile Threat Has an Extended Reach
North Korea has had nuclear weapons for several years. They not only have the technology to produce nuclear bombs, they are willing to sell that information to the highest bidder. It is no secret that North Korea has been instrumental in Iran's ongoing development of a nuclear weapon. Furthermore, North Korea has been involved in the exchange of information with Syria and Pakistan. Even at a time when the world is calling for North Korea to dismantle their nuclear weapons and capabilities, their compliance has been limited. North Korea has boasted that they have ballistic missiles capable of reaching the West Coast of the United States. To counteract any incoming ballistic missiles from North Korea, the U.S. has a few missile defense installations in Alaska and California. These missile defense sites will be the only source of interceptors for a North Korean ballistic missile. Again, the importance of effective missile defense for America cannot be pushed aside.
China's Ballistic Missile Threat to the United States
China technologically advanced nation. China's capabilities are on par with Russia in many respects. There are indications that China has targeted U.S. satellites with lasers. In January 2007, Chinese anti-satellite missile test was successfully conducted by China. This capability can be used against U.S. satellites. These would be targeted first, e.g. in case of the conflict over Taiwan. It is not known how many ballistic missiles China has, or how many of them are nuclear-armed, but the fact is substantial. Where the threat from North Korea may only be from a few nuclear tipped ballistic missiles, China has far more. Chinese capabilities require far more missile defense installations than what the U.S. currently has in place. The country must be protected against any aggressor of potential future coalition of aggressors.
Russia's Ballistic Missile Threat to the United States and Its Allies
While the Cold War between the former Soviet Union and the United States is over, there still remains a great deal of nuclear weapons on both sides. The third site ballistic missile defense plan of the Bush Administration consisting of ten missile defense interceptors in Poland and an X-band radar in the Czech Republic have outraged Russia. In retaliation, Moscow threatened to deploy its tactical nuclear weapons closer to NATO borders. Even though the sites to be installed are for defensive purposes only and are not capable of shooting down Russia’s ballistic missiles (due to the distance, the interceptor would have to fly so fast that it would be torn by the pressure of the air), Russia does not approve. The Obama Administration changed the plan to Phased Adaptive Approach which will not protect Europe and the Untied States against the long-range threat from Iran until 2020. The plan is already two years behind the schedule. However, according to the Air Force estimates, Iran is capable of having the long-range ballistic missile as early as 2015.
Missile Defense Is Critical to Protecting the U.S.
Of the countries profiled above, 3 of the 4 have ballistic missiles and the capability of delivering a nuclear warhead. Since President Ronald Reagan first introduced the Strategic Defense Initiative over 25 years ago, there has been some progress in providing a missile shield for the U.S., but not enough has been done. The U.S. needs to develop space-based defenses along with many more ground and sea-based missile defense sites. While the country may be capable of eliminating a handful incoming ballistic missiles at this time, depending on where they enter the country, it is defenseless against a barrage of ballistic missiles that may be nuclear tipped. America is vulnerable against a ballistic missile attack. As nations of the world continue to seek nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, the risk of even an accidental launch increases. Without the necessary missile defenses in place, devastation will happen.