Long-Range missile defense has long been sold to the American public as a necessary piece of the defensive puzzle. As the debate over East Coast missile defense and increased West Coast missile deployments heats up, a number of salient facts must be kept in mind.
Long-Range Missile Defense Doesn’t Work in Real-World Conditions:
== Despite the advertised effectiveness of missile defense systems in Alaska and California, the Missile Defense Agency has had only eight successful intercepts in fifteen tests of currently fielded Ground-Based interceptors. None of these tests have been conducted under real-world conditions. (1)
==Any nation capable of launching an ICBM is capable of employing decoys and countermeasures to confuse incoming anti-ballistic missiles: any East-Coast emplacements would likely field these same inadequately tested anti-ballistic missiles. (2)
==Having a missile defense emplacement in your state moves you up on the list of potential targets in the event of a nuclear exchange. For example, it is unlikely that any Iranian strike plan currently includes targets in Maine. If a missile defense emplacement is constructed in Maine, that calculus is certain to change: a wise offense first seeks to disable an opponent’s defense.
Missile Defense is too Expensive:
== In recent decades, the U.S. has spent approximately $250 billion on missile defense. (3) Long-range missile defense is not a wise investment given:
=lack of real-world testing,
=history of failed missile defense projects, and
=sequester cuts that are already eating into defense spending,
Missile Defense Does Not Deal With Terrorist Threats:
==According to the President (4), the Secretary of Defense (5), and the Director of National Intelligence (6), one of our most potent and real nuclear threats is non-state actors (i.e. terrorists).
=Non-state actors do not have access to the technology or the funds required to build a ballistic missile.
=Non-state actors desire smaller, portable nuclear warheads for the purpose of causing highly visible death and destruction. Missile defense does not defend against a portable nuclear warhead.
=Money spent on missile defense with sequester cuts underway is money not spent addressing the threat of non-state actors.
West Coast Missile Defense Protects the US:
== Despite the fundamental flaws of long-range anti-ballistic missiles, Commander of U.S. Northern Command and NORAD, General Charles H. Jacoby said, “We currently can defend the entire United States from an Iranian long-range missile threat.” He continued, “given the threat that is represented by Iran to the eastern United States today, we can cover that threat.” (7) We do not need additional expensive and ineffective East-Coast missile defense emplacements.
(1) U.S. Missile Defense Programs at a Glance, ARMS CONTROL ASS’N (Aug. 2012), http://www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/usmissiledefense (reporting that the Missile Defense Agency claimed seven successful tests in fourteen attempts between 2000 and 2012); Ground Based Interceptor Completes Successful Test Flight, MISSILE DEFENSE AGENCY, Jan. 26, 2013, http://www.mda.mil/news/13news0001.html (reporting a successful test on January 26, 2013).
(2) Report on Countermeasures: A Technical Evaluation of the Operational Effectiveness of the US National Missile Defense System, UNION OF CONCERNED SCIENTISTS (Apr. 2000), available at http://www.ucsusa.org/assets/documents/nwgs/cm_all.pdf.
(3) Phillip Coyle, Back to the Drawing Board: The Need for Sound Science in U.S. Missile Defense, Feb. 13, 2013, http://www.armscontrol.org/act/2013_01-02/Back-to-the-Drawing-Board-The-Need-for-Sound-Science-in-US-Missile-Defense.
(4) Remarks by President Barack Obama in Prague as Delivered, THE WHITE HOUSE, OFFICE OF THE PRESS SEC., Apr. 5, 2009, http://www.whitehouse.gov/video/The-President-in-Prague#transcript.
(5) Nuclear Posture Review Report, DEPT. OF DEFENSE, iv (Apr. 2010), available at http://www.defense.gov/npr/docs/2010%20nuclear%20posture%20review%20report.pdf.
(6) James R. Clapper, Unclassified Statement for the Record on the Worldwide Threat Assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Community for the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, July 21, 2012, available at http://intelligence.senate.gov/120131/clapper.pdf.
(7) Donna Miles, Missile Defenses Must Evolve with Threat, Northcom Chief Says, ARMED FORCES PRESS SERV., Mar. 19, 2013, available at http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=119567.