Mis­sile de­fense and START

The Washington Times Weekly - - Geopolitic­s -

The di­rec­tor of the Pen­tagon’s Mis­sile De­fense Agency told a Se­nate hear­ing this week that the new Strate­gic Arms Re­duc­tion Treaty (New START) will not con­strain U.S. mis­sile de­fenses.

Army Lt. Gen. Pa­trick J. O’Reilly, the agency’s chief, told the Se­nate Armed Ser vices Com­mit­tee that mis­sile de­fenses re­main a key el­e­ment of U.S. na­tional se­cu­rity and “the New START treaty has no con­straints on cur­rent and fu­ture com­po­nents of the [bal­lis­tic mis­sile de­fense sys­tem] devel­op­ment or de­ploy­ment.”

The treaty bans con­vert­ing ICBMs or sub­ma­rine-launched bal­lis­tic mis­sile (SLBM) launch­ers to mis­sile de­fense launch­ers but al­lows us­ing the five for­mer ICBM si­los at Van­den­berg Air Force Base in Cal­i­for­nia that were con­verted for ground­based in­ter­cep­tors (GBI) that are cur­rently in place, Gen. O’Reilly said.

The Pen­tagon did not plan ad­di­tional ICBM silo con­ver­sions at Van­den­berg and its hedge for emerg­ing mis­sile threats by fin­ish­ing a mis­sile field at Fort Greely, Alaska, he said. “More­over, we de­ter­mined that if more in­ter­cep­tors were to be added at Van­den­berg AFB, it would be less ex­pen­sive to build a new GBI mis­sile field, which is not pro­hib­ited by the treaty,” the gen­eral said, adding that con­vert­ing sub­ma­rine launch­ers into mis­sile de­fense was “unattrac­tive and ex­tremely ex­pen­sive.”

Gen. O’Reilly said the New START “ac­tu­ally re­duces con­straints on the devel­op­ment of the mis­sile de­fense pro­gram.”

“Un­less they have New START-ac­count­able first stages (which we do not plan to use), our tar­gets will no longer be sub­ject to START con­straints, which limited our use of air-to-sur­face and wa­ter­borne launches of tar­gets which are es­sen­tial for the cost­ef­fec­tive test­ing of mis­sile de­fense in­ter­cep­tors against [medium-range bal­lis­tic mis­sile] and [in­ter­me­di­ate-range bal­lis­tic mis­sile] tar­gets in the Pa­cific area,” he said.

The treaty also will re­move lim­its on space launch fa­cil­i­ties for tar­get launches.

E-mail Bill Gertz at [email protected]­ing­ton­times.com.

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