- - Sunday, September 27, 2015

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

These days, you can’t open the newspaper without seeing stories about the Iranian nuclear program (“Iranians provided own samples for nuclear site inspection,” Web, Sept. 21). But as we focus on Iran, let’s remember that the greater threat to the U.S. homeland comes from North Korea.

While Iran was at least a year away from building a nuclear weapon before the recent international agreement, North Korea has a stockpile of nearly 30 weapons. North Korea’s Taepodong-II missile is capable of hitting major West Coast cities. And earlier this year, the regime successfully paired its nuclear warheads with its missiles, making this threat ‘launch ready.’

To respond, Congress must fully fund our Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) anti-ballistic missile system, which protects the U.S. homeland from enemy missiles — whether launched by Teheran or Pyongyang. After nine successful tests, we know GMD works but the system needs continuous upgrades to keep up with the threat. The decade-old system needs new sensors and radars to better detect and track enemy missiles. More interceptors should be deployed at the current West Coast bases and the long-studied East Coast base should finally move forward. Additional live-fire tests to help engineers improve the system’s performance are also needed.

With all eyes focused on Iran, it is more important than ever that we keep up our guard against North Korea as well.

GUSTAVO MARTIR

U.S. Air Force (retired)

Washington


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