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A day later in Tokyo, Mr. Kerry was asked to elaborate and said there were no agreements, discussions or concrete proposals laid out.

“I was simply making an observation about the rationale for that particular deployment, which is to protect United States’ interests that are directly threatened by North Korea, specifically Guam, Hawaii, possibly at some point given the direction [North Korean leader] Kim Jong-un has indicated he wants to go the continental United States, and very much our current allies, the Republic of Korea, Japan, and others in this region,” he said.

According to U.S. officials, Mr. Kerry has discussed canceling the Pentagon’s recently announced plan to add 14 additional ground-based interceptors to the 30 missiles now deployed in Alaska and Hawaii.

In his letter Mr. Rogers, “I urge you to earnestly issue a clarification of your remarks that under no circumstances will the United States ‘trade’ its missile defense deployments in Asia to China.”

Noting his position as chairman of the subcommittee responsible for missile defense, Mr. Rogers added, “I can assure you that my subcommittee will not fund any removal of U.S. missile defenses from the region under any circumstances.”

Mr. Rogers suggested that North Korea is not the sole state posing a missile threat to the United States and its allies, noting that another country China lacks transparency about its military program. It is building up its military with double-digit military spending and is expanding its missile and nuclear programs.

In a statement, Mr. Rogers also criticized the Obama administration’s handling of North Korea.

“It is disturbing, yet sadly no longer surprising, the administration’s response to North Korean aggression is further provocative weakness,” he said. “Not only did Secretary [of Defense Chuck] Hagel delay a needed reliability test of our ICBM systems, he has forced into the Air Force budget an environmental impact study that can only be necessary to shut down an ICBM missile wing or squadron.”

The measure sends the wrong message to U.S. allies and adversaries, Mr. Rogers said.

Rep. Michael R. Turner, another senior member of the House Armed Services Committee, questioned President Obama about U.S. missile defense strategy following Mr. Kerry’s comments in China.

“I am greatly concerned that your missile defense strategy is languishing, resulting in increased risk to the United States, increased cost to the taxpayer and needless alienation of our allies,” the Ohio Republican stated in a letter sent to Mr. Obama on Wednesday.

“Mr. President, the world is not becoming a safer place,” Mr. Turner said.

“Offering to weaken our defenses in hopes of irrational nations suspending their weapons programs is not an effective security strategy. Simply put these offers are of greater benefit to our adversaries and to the detriment of the American people.”


China is continuing an interrupted flow of oil into North Korea, contrary to recent press reports indicating Beijing may have curtailed Pyongyang’s key source of energy as a punitive action.

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