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Credible Missile Defenses Needed

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Missile defense theologians are exploiting North Korea’s growing bellicosity and its nuclear and ballistic missile tests to gripe about the Obama administration’s missile defense budget. Their main argument is neatly captured by conservative commentator and Washington Times columnist Frank Gaffney, who asserts that the administration nefariously seeks to "limit U.S. ballistic missile defenses."

That blanket statement is baloney. Witness the decision by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates this week to position antimissile defenses in Hawaii in case North Korea tests another of its Taepodong-2 missiles later this summer. When credible threats arise, Gates deploys credible defenses-in this case, the Theater High-Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD.

In fact, the Obama administration’s missile defense budget actually increases funding for the most battle-ready missile defense systems that offer credible protections against current and near-term threats. At this juncture these threats are mainly Iran and North Korea’s short- and medium-range ballistic missiles, which enable these countries to threaten their neighbors and U.S. military forces based or operating nearby.

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