North Korea tested missiles capable of reaching the U.S. on July 4, elevating fears of Pyongyang’s capabilities of a nuclear strike on the U.S. mainland. Reports have now emerged indicating that the American missile defense shield may not be able to protect U.S. citizens from an ICBM missile attack.
Kim Jong-un celebrated the successful launch of the North Korean missile and called it a “Gift for American Ba****ds.” To make matters worse, a former senior international nuclear watchdog official has hinted at the possibility that Pyongyang may have completed the development of miniaturized nukes that could fit the ICBM missile, as reported by Yonhap News.
The only thing standing between the rogue nation and U.S. mainland is the missile defense system developed by Pentagon over the years by spending tens of billions of dollars. Surprisingly that system may not be able to shoot down a high-speed nuclear missile heading towards U.S.
The missile defense system works by a diverse network of sensors, radars, and interceptor missiles. The system is equipped with 36 ICBM interceptors, 32 are in Alaska and four in California. However, most current and former military official believe that chances of protecting U.S. from a surprise ICBM North Korea missile attack are slim, as reported by Politico.
The U.S. missile defense is more successful against short and medium range missiles that travel at a comparatively lesser speed and within the atmosphere. On the contrary, ICBM missiles travel at a speed of over 15,000 miles per hour in space which makes it harder to detect.
Phil Coyle, a former chief weapons tester said, “Three of the previous four [tests] had failed, which was 75 percent failure rate.” He further added that even with the most recent tests, the success rate was two of five, which is 40 percent, and that was not a passing grade.
Military leaders have acknowledged that the two successful interceptions were in a highly controlled environment and were heavily scripted. David Wright, a co-director of the Global Security Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, told the New York Post, “You simply wouldn’t rely on it.”
However, Pentagon spokesman Navy Captain Jeff Davis told reporters, “We do have confidence in our ability to defend against the limited threat, the nascent threat that is there.” It is worth noting that the strategy followed by Pentagon is to fire five interceptors for each enemy missile increasing the chances of successfully hitting the target.
Experts believe that rapid development of North Korea’s missile is cause for concern. Despite the possibility that North Korea could be a year away from perfecting the missile to hit U.S. targets reliably, experts suggest that U.S. should increase the development of its missile defense systems. Michael Elleman, a fellow for Missile Defense at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, said,
“In missile defense, even if it had a test record of 100 percent, there are no guarantees.”
Meanwhile, Donald Trump might have realized that China was not interested in doing his bidding. Trump’s China policy appears to have failed given that North Korea’s missile program continues to flourish. Trump has been pressing China to impose sanctions on Pyongyang in return for a better trade deal with U.S.
His latest tweet clearly shows that he has realized that China is not on the same page, and they have their own agenda. He also tweeted about the worst trade deals made by U.S. and threatened to discontinue them. These tweets are seen as pressure tactic before a face-to-face meeting with Xi Jinping.
Has Trump’s failed China policy and hostile attitude towards North Korea put U.S. in imminent threat of a nuclear missile strike? Let us know your views in the comments section below.
[Featured Image by Razvan Ionut Dragomirescu/Shutterstock]