Sullivan bill would expand U.S. missile defense in response to North Korean threats
WASHINGTON — Alaska Sen. Dan Sullivan is concerned about growing aggression from North Korea and wants the United States to bolster its missile defense systems.
That would mean more military funding for Alaska, where much of the nation’s missile defense is based. Alaska is also first in mainland North America on the flight path of a potential intercontinental ballistic missile from North Korea.
Sullivan introduced a bill last week — with a bipartisan list of co-sponsors — designed to bolster the U.S. missile defense program.
“Top military leaders have been sounding the alarm, saying it is only a matter of when, not if, Kim Jong Un will get the capability to range cities in the continental United States with a nuclear intercontinental ballistic missile,” Sullivan said.
Co-sponsors include Sens. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va.; Tom Cotton, R-Ark.; Ted Cruz, R-Texas; Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.; Gary Peters, D-Mich.; Marco Rubio, R-Fla.; and Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii.
Sullivan’s bill would expand the U.S. missile defense system in Alaska and elsewhere, and authorize 28 new ground-based interceptors.
The bill also calls for new missile sensors in orbit and would add East Coast and Midwest missile defense sites.
Sullivan will try to get his bill in this year’s National Defense Authorization Act, which will head through committee in June.
The senators said they introduced the bill in response to recent escalating aggression by North Korea, which has been conducting regular missile tests.
[Could North Korea actually hit Alaska with a missile?]
“If we can’t make Kim Jong Un listen to reason, then we should make his arsenal obsolete,” Cotton said. “In this increasingly dangerous world, America needs a missile defense system that’s second to none, and this legislation will keep our country ahead of the pack.”
“The North Koreans are testing … and improving their capability, really, almost weekly,” Sullivan said in an interview Thursday. “Unfortunately, we’re on the front lines, right? He’ll be able to range Anchorage before Chicago or anywhere else.”
It’s “rather frightening from my perspective, especially given that the guy’s not stable,” Sullivan said.
“While our adversaries are increasingly focused on ballistic missile capabilities, we must ensure our missile defense architecture outpaces their developing threats,” Cruz said. “This bill is a statement of rededication to Reagan’s vision, particularly its attention to space-based sensors.”
The U.S. helps provide missile defense systems, known as Terminal High Altitude Area Defense or THAAD, in South Korea and Japan, and spends “a lot of money in our defense authorization bill every year” to help Israel with “what they call their ‘Iron Dome,’ ” Sullivan said. “And then the president was in Saudi Arabia saying, ‘Hey maybe we need a THAAD to protect Saudi Arabia and the troops in the Middle East.’ ”
“I support all those. But who’s talking about protecting the homeland of the United States? Who’s talking about protecting Anchorage and Chicago and New York City?” ___
This article is written by Erica Martinson from Alaska Dispatch News, Anchorage and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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