- The Washington Times - Friday, November 1, 2002

North Korea is continuing to develop long-range missiles that threaten the United States and a basic defense system against them is about two years from deployment, the Pentagon's missile-defense chief said yesterday.
Air Force Lt. Gen. Ronald Kadish, director of the Missile Defense Agency, said North Korea's first long-range missile test in 1998 caught U.S. intelligence by surprise. As a result, missile-defense development efforts have shifted to meeting a range of threats rather than any specific danger from a single nation.
"Along the way, if we get threatened by North Korea, I think the American people understand we would not just sit by with five missiles in the hole and do nothing," Gen. Kadish said.
Asked if North Korea was continuing to develop its long-range Taepodong-2 missile without any flight tests, Gen. Kadish told a group of defense reporters: "All the indications that I see and watch, the answer is yes."
The Defense Intelligence Agency stated in a report made public by the Senate last month that North Korea's 1999 ban on missile flight tests was having "minimal" impact on continued development of the Taepodong-2 (TD-2).
"By precluding flight testing, the moratorium probably would delay deployment of TD-2 missiles as long as it remains in place," the DIA said, noting that the missile could be deployed without a flight test, although it would be unlikely.
"North Korea likely perceives its TD-2 ballistic missile capability primarily as a tool for deterrence and political coercion," the DIA said. "During a conflict, the North also could attempt to strike U.S. and U.S. interests with ballistic missiles, if North Korea's leadership were attacked directly or was facing imminent destruction."
The DIA stated that North Korea had one or two nuclear weapons.
Gen. Kadish said U.S. efforts to defend against threats of missile attack no longer are focused on the former Soviet Union and China but rogue states.
"It's not about the Soviet Union," he said. "It's about North Korea, it's about Iran, it's about Iraq, it's about Libya and other states that might threaten us in the process."
Iran is continuing to test missiles and "they continue to make progress," he said.
Nations that are building missile systems also appear willing to share missile technology, he said.
"They are moving from the capability of having very good systems in short-range missiles, to the intermediate and longer-range missiles that we're seeing," Gen. Kadish said. "And that's the trend."
North Korea, Iran, Iraq and Libya are key missile-developing states of concern against which the United States is preparing to build defenses, he said.
Gen. Kadish said the missile-defense test site being built at Fort Greely, Alaska, is moving ahead and by late 2004 or early 2005 will provide the nation with an emergency defense against a North Korean missile attack.
"Once the test bed is in place, there will be some amount of capability because of its location to handle any threats from North Korea that might arise, but it will be extremely limited," he said.
Five anti-missile interceptors will be deployed at the site.
Gen. Kadish singled out Libya as a state working hard to buy and build long-range missile systems.
"The Libyans have been pretty active in trying to get missile capability," he said. "And not just short range I will say this: They have enough money to buy it."
The Libyans appear to be having problems developing an indigenous missile capability, he said.
The CIA stated in an analysis made public by the Senate Intelligence Committee last month that Libya was "continuing its efforts to obtain ballistic missile-related equipment, materials, technology and expertise from foreign sources."
"Outside assistance is critical to Libya's ballistic missile development programs and may eventually result in Libya achieving its long-desired goal of a [medium-range ballistic missile] capability within a few years."
Gen. Kadish said the administration's withdrawal from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty has made it easier to design and build missile defenses without the restrictions imposed under the Cold War-era agreement.
"My life got a lot better after the treaty, in terms of our ability to get the job done," he said.
Critics of the Bush administration's withdrawal from the treaty had warned that abrogating the pact would lead to a new arms race and a strategic missile buildup.
Gen. Kadish also said the military should step up purchases of a new Patriot missile system known as PAC-3, the first defense system built from the ground up to counter missiles. Earlier versions of the Patriot were designed as anti-aircraft systems.
"My recommendation has been and will continue to be to buy Patriot-3s as quickly and as fast as we can afford to buy them because they're ready to be bought," he said.
The U.S. military faces missile threats in the Middle East and in Northeast Asia.
Iraq's Scuds and short-range missiles can be countered more effectively today than during the 1991 Persian Gulf war, when Patriots had some success against Scuds, Gen. Kadish said.
The U.S. military and several nations in the Middle East have either a few Patriot PAC-3s or larger numbers of an earlier version known as PAC-2.
Israel is defended by the Arrow missile-defense system.

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide