Tuesday, May 27, 2003

President Bush specifically names North Korea as a key threat in an unpublished order on missile defense and says such a system is needed as a hedge against military surprises and intelligence failures.

Mr. Bush also says in the presidential order, known as National Security Presidential Directive-23, that his administration will develop a strategic “triad” of long-range conventional and nuclear weapons, missile defenses, and an industrial and research infrastructure.

“Some states, such as North Korea, are aggressively pursuing the development of weapons of mass destruction and long-range missiles as a means of coercing the United States and our allies,” the directive says.

The White House released a “fact sheet” on the directive May 20, but it made no reference to North Korea, in an apparent effort to avoid upsetting the communist regime and continue talks on Pyongyang’s nuclear programs.

The directive was signed by Mr. Bush on Dec. 16 but kept secret until last week.

A copy of the full six-page directive to top national-security officials was obtained by The Washington Times. The unclassified directive is signed “George W. Bush.”

The document says the missile-defense system to be fielded next year and in 2005 will include a combination of ground-based missile interceptors, sea-based interceptors and Patriot PAC-3 systems, as well as sensors on land, sea and in space.

“In addition, the United States will seek permission respectively from the [United Kingdom] and Denmark to upgrade early warning radar in Fylingdales and Thule, Greenland, as part of our capability,” the directive says.

Radar in Britain and Denmark also was not mentioned in the White House fact sheet, apparently in an effort to avoid arousing missile-defense opponents in those nations.

A White House spokeswoman had no immediate comment on why the directive was kept secret or why the details mentioned in the directive were omitted from the fact sheet.

The systems to be deployed for advanced missile defense include additional ground-based and sea-based interceptors, deployment of the Army’s Theater High-Altitude Area Defense, and the Air Force’s Airborne Laser systems.

Missile defenses also will include “a family of boost-phase and midcourse hit-to-kill interceptors based on sea-, air- and ground-based platforms,” the directive says. It also mentions enhanced sensors and the development and testing of space-based defenses.

North Korea is a key reason Mr. Bush ordered the rushed deployment of missile defenses by next year. The first missile interceptor base is being built in Alaska as an emergency measure to blunt North Korea’s threat of an attack.

North Korea conducted flight-tests of a missile capable of reaching the United States in 1998 and in October announced that it was abandoning a 1994 agreement that was supposed to have halted its nuclear-weapons program.

The Bush administration held talks with North Korea last month in Beijing and is expected to hold another round of discussions on Pyongyang’s nuclear arms program next month.

The directive says past military surprises and intelligence failures highlight the need to build a system capable of intercepting missiles.

“Finally, history teaches that, despite our best efforts, there will be military surprises, failures of diplomacy, intelligence and deterrence,” the directive says. “Missile defenses help provide protection against such events.”

There was no mention of military surprises or intelligence and diplomatic failures in the fact sheet made public May 20.

The U.S. intelligence community failed to anticipate the first North Korean test of a Taepo Dong missile in August 1998. The CIA had stated in an estimate several months before the test that no nation other than the acknowledged nuclear powers would be able to hit the United States with a missile for at least 15 years.

Regarding the new strategic triad, Mr. Bush said traditional methods of deterring threats from missiles and weapons of mass destruction are difficult.

New enemies will try to force the United States “out of their region, leaving them free to support terrorism and to pursue aggression.”

“By their own calculations, these leaders may believe they can do this by holding a few of our cities hostage,” Mr. Bush said. “In recognition of these new threats, I have directed that the United States must make progress in fielding a new triad of capabilities, missile defenses and a robust industrial research and development infrastructure.”

The strategic triad during the Cold War was composed of three nuclear-weapons carriers: land-based launchers, airborne bombers and submarines.

According to the directive, the United States will begin deploying an “evolutionary” missile-defense system next year that will be improved and expanded over time.

Mr. Bush says in the directive that because the system will evolve, the secretary of defense “shall update me and propose changes” as needed.

The directive also says the United States will build defenses capable of protecting both itself and its allies.

It orders the secretaries of defense and state to “promote international missile defense cooperation” within military alliances such as NATO. It also calls for the removal of blocks to cooperation with other nations and orders the two secretaries to issue a report by next month on ways to improve technology-sharing with allies.

“This review will be a related but distinct part of the broader effort to update and strengthen all U.S. export controls, as called for in the National Strategy to Combat Weapons of Mass Destruction,” the president says.

The president also ordered the secretaries of defense and state to review the restrictions on shared missile technology under the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR). A report on any recommended policy changes on how the United States controls missile goods and technology is to be written before the end of next month.

“The new strategic challenges of the 21st century require us to think differently, but they also require us to act,” Mr. Bush says. “The deployment of effective missile defenses is an essential element of the United States’ broader efforts to transform our defense and deterrence policies and capabilities to meet the new threats we face. Defense of the American people against these new threats is my highest priority as commander in chief, and the highest priority of my administration.”

Copyright © 2022 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide