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A defense official involved in missile defense, however, said there is no reason to believe major changes will be made to the current missile-defense program.

“The Democrat-led Congress appropriated $9 billion for missile defense for 2009, only about $320 million less than the president’s budget request,” the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of political sensitivities.

“Both North Korea and Iran are continuing their development of missiles of all ranges, including missiles capable of striking the U.S., and there is no indication the threat will abate anytime soon, considering how much money both countries are spending on missile development.”

Missile defenses were integrated into the Bush administration’s new strategic triad of capabilities, which include nuclear and precision conventional strike forces, passive and active defenses, and the buildup of defense infrastructure. The old triad was a combination of land-based, sea-based and bomber-carrying nuclear forces.

John Holum, former Arms Control and Disarmament Agency director and an Obama campaign adviser, told the Arms Control Association in June that Mr. Obama would limit strategic missile defenses to current deployments in California and Alaska.

“But at the same time, he thinks it´s very important to proceed on the basis of workable defenses, making sure that systems are capable before we put so many resources into these systems,” Mr. Holum said.

Missile defense also needs to be based on threats and should focus on short-range missile defenses and “local defenses” against missiles, Mr. Holum said.

Mr. Obama’s priorities for missile defense include so-called theater or regional defenses, “and further down the list, as the technology is proven, more effective defenses; national or longer-range defenses,” Mr. Holum said.

Mr. Obama thinks a missile attack is less likely than a nuclear blast carried out from a suitcase, boxcar or shipping container smuggled into the country, “where missile defenses don’t have any impact,” Mr. Holum said.

During the Clinton administration, Mr. Holum opposed both short-range and long-range missile defenses during interagency discussions, favoring existing arms agreements over hardware, according to internal documents obtained at the time.

Mr. Holum led Clinton administration efforts to extend the now-defunct 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in talks with the Russians to cover short-range defenses, a move opposed by many in the Pentagon as restricting needed defenses against short-range missile attack.

Riki M. Ellison, chairman of the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance, said he thinks missile defense will grow internationally under Mr. Obama and become part of “an alliance-building movement.”

However, missile defenses are likely to be approached differently than under Mr. Bush, he said.

“I believe that there will be no growth in the long-range ballistic missile capability that includes both here in Alaska and California as well as Poland and little growth if any on future missile-defense systems,” Mr. Ellison said in an e-mail.

Bill Gertz covers national security affairs. He can be reached at 202/636-3274, or at insidethering@washingtontimes.com.