Defense Bill Boosts Nuclear Deterrent, Missile Defense Amid North Korea Tensions
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by Causes | 5.25.18
Amid the ongoing threats and uncertainty over whether the nuclear summit with North Korea will be held, last week the House passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2019. If enacted, the bill would authorize $708 billion in defense spending and set policies within the Dept. of Defense (DOD) including those related to nuclear deterrence and North Korea. Given the nuclear tensions of the present moment here’s a look at some relevant portions of the bill:
- This section would authorize funding for the president’s budget request to restore the nuclear arsenal and add $325 million for the National Nuclear Security Administration’s efforts to modernize the nuclear weapons stockpile and related infrastructure.
- It would implement the recommendation of the Nuclear Posture Review to pursue a lower-yield ballistic missile warhead to strengthen deterrence.
- Additionally, it’d provide increased funding for two of the Air Force’s nuclear modernization programs: the Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent and the Long-Range Standoff cruise missile.
Missile Defense: This section would authorize funding for the president’s budget request for missile defense and provide an additional $140 million to the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) for development of critical directed energy and space sensing projects, and the acceleration of hypersonic defense capabilities. Additionally, this section would:
- Add $175 million to accelerate the integration of Patriot (for lower altitudes) and THAAD (higher altitude) missiles to meet the requirements of the Commander of U.S. Forces in Korea.
- Require the MDA establish a boost phase intercept program using kinetic interceptors, initiate development of a missile defense tracking and discrimination space sensor layer, and continue efforts to develop high power directed energy for missile defense applications.
- Require the MDA to continue development for the homeland defense radar in Hawaii and that it be operationally capable by fiscal year 2023.
North Korea: This section of the bill would aim to ensure U.S. forces are prepared for a potential conflict on the Korean Peninsula, including their readiness to counter North Korean use of chemical or biological weapons. It would express support for regional missile defense exercises to improve interoperability. It would fully fund the president’s budget request for the Army’s precision strike missile program.
Additionally, this section of the bill would:
- Require the DOD to prepare a report estimating U.S. casualties for likely scenarios of an armed conflict with North Korea before September 30, 2018 which would be updated 180 days thereafter. The reports would be unclassified but could contain a classified annex.
- Require reports from the Missile Defense Agency on the feasibility of increasing Hawaii’s missile defense by permanently stationing an Aegis ship patrol and Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) in Hawaii. The report would include the costs, benefits, and risks of testing a THAAD interceptor against an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).
Tell your reps what you think of these provisions of the House’s NDAA for FY19 using the Take Action button and share your thoughts below!
— Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: Missile Defense Agency / Public Domain)
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