U.S. Considering Shootdown of North Korean Missile
There was much blogospheric speculation earlier this week over the possibility of using a DPRK missile test as an opportunity to test our defensive system. Now, AP reports that the administration is seriously considering doing just that.
If North Korea launches a long-range missile, as some U.S. officials say appears likely, then the Pentagon may get a first chance to use its unproven missile defenses against a real target. Although the North Korean missile most likely would be launched for a flight test or to put a satellite in space, Bush administration officials are considering the possibility of shooting it down, since they cannot rule out in advance that the missile might be fired with hostile intent. “The problem is that no one knows because North Korea doesn’t say anything in advance of a test,” said Rick Lehner, chief spokesman for the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency. “So you have no idea what it is.”
David Wright, a senior scientist at the private Union of Concerned Scientists, said he strongly doubts that the Bush administration could back up its claims of having the capability to shoot down a North Korean missile. “I consider it to be rhetorical posturing,” Wright said. “It currently has no demonstrated capability.” The last time the Pentagon registered a successful test in intercepting a mock warhead in flight was in October 2002. Since then there have been three unsuccessful attempted intercepts, mostly recently in February 2005.
Alan Dowd has more on the state of our anti-missile defenses at TCS.