North Korea has positioned its most sophisticated long-range ballistic missile at a launch site for a test firing that could come within weeks, a newspaper here reported Monday.
Pyongyang, which last month raised tensions worldwide by conducting a nuclear test, could even fire its missile when South Korean President Lee Myung-bak meets President Obama in Washington on June 16, according to the report.
The Dong-a Ilbo newspaper in Seoul reported that the newest missile set for launch from the Dongchang-ni launch site on North Korea’s west coast may be a version of the Taepodong-2 rocket that Pyongyang fired in April.
The report, citing unnamed sources, said the missile has a range of up to 4,000 miles and could reach Alaska. Both South Korea and Japan acknowledged today that a new North Korean long-range missile test could come within weeks.
What is the United States response?
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates who has submitted a budget that cuts national missile defense programs said, “at this point, it’s not clear what they’re going to do.”
Gates spoke in Manila before boarding a U.S. military jet for Alaska, where he was scheduled to view a key part of the missile defense system, the ground based interceptor silos.
In the 2010 budget, Gates proposed cutting more than a billion dollars from missile defense, halting the planned expansion of the interceptors from 30 to 44. In the wake of the North Korea test some experts, including former Defense Secretary William Cohen, have suggested rethinking those cuts.
But in an earlier roundtable with reporters, Gates said his budget will robustly fund missile defense, cutting only parts of the program, like the airborne laser, that had little chance of success. Gates said the interceptor program will get $750 million to continue its development and $200 million to sustain the existing 30 missiles.
“The 30 interceptors we have are adequate for years to come to deal with the North Korean threat as we see it developing,” Gates said.
Gates said North Korea will not be able to deploy a significant number of long range missiles in a short period of time. If they were to expand their capabilities, the U.S. would have “ample time” to build additional interceptors.
Yet, Bill Clinton’s former Secretary of Defense, William Cohen advises Gates to NOT cut the missile defense budget.
With the increasing billigerence of North Korea and Iran, why would the Obama Administration considering placing the United States at risk while it is wasting $ Billions in bailing out failed automobile companies.
Mr President, how about some priorities here.
By the way, do you think Alaska Governor Sarah Palin will give Secretary Gates an earful today about Alaska job losses as a result of Obama cuts in missile defense?
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