And what’s the most effective way to get a nuclear weapon to a position where it can be detonated to create an EMP? Where it can cause maximum damage to the U.S. electrical grid and other elements of our infrastructure? A ballistic missile. What are rogue nations such as North Korea trying to acquire? Ballistic missiles.
Which is one of the reasons it’s crucial that we get serious about building a comprehensive missile defense.
The Obama administration has taken one important step. In the wake of North Korea’s most recent (and particularly bellicose) round of saber-rattling and missile testing, it has reversed its previous policy to cut missile-defense interceptors in Alaska. Those interceptors are back in the budget now.
But there’s a lot more we can be doing to protect ourselves. We have a rudimentary missile defense in place, but we need a network with land, sea, air and space capabilities. That means locating sensors throughout the world and in space. It also means increasing the number of interceptors we have to counter long-range missiles. With a layered system, we have a much better chance of destroying an incoming missile.
It might be tempting to dismiss North Korea’s threats as just talk. But as Korea expert Bruce Klingner notes: “It’s talk until it happens. We thought it was just talk until they sank a South Korean ship in South Korean water. We thought it was just talk until they shelled a South Korean island.”
We have the technological know-how and capability to do more than just hope for the best. Why take the chance?