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Bush Vows Increased Missile Defense Cooperation

By | October 16, 2006

      President Bush vowed to increase cooperation with allied nations on ballistic missile defense.

      In a Rose Garden news conference at the White House Wednesday, Bush said the United States will defend itself and its allies against a bellicose North Korea, which tested missiles in July, and a week ago announced that it tested a nuclear weapon.

      A further nuclear test may be in the offing. A high-ranking North Korean official Wednesday told the Japanese Kyodo news service that his nation would detonate more bombs unless the United States abandons its “hostile attitude.”

      North Korea also warned Japan yesterday that it faces “strong countermeasures” if Japan moves ahead with sanctions against the Korean regime.

      To counter the threat of potential North Korean missiles tipped with nuclear devices, the United States is fashioning a multi-layered ballistic missile shield, including an Airborne Laser to hit an enemy missile shortly after launch in its boost phase; a Kinetic Energy Interceptor (boost and midcourse phases); and ship-based Aegis and ground-based interceptor systems (midcourse to terminal phases).

      Major companies involved include The Boeing Co. [BA], Lockheed Martin Corp [LMT], Northrop Grumman Corp. [NOC] and Raytheon Co. [RTN].

      Bush praised allied nations that have agreed to back sanctions against North Korea for its intransigence and violation of nuclear non-proliferation agreements.

      “I’m pleased that the nations in the region are making clear to North Korea what is at stake,” Bush said. “I thank China, South Korea, Japan, and Russia for their strong statements of condemnation of North Korea’s actions. Peace on the Korean Peninsula requires that these nations send a clear message to Pyongyang that its actions will not be tolerated, and I appreciate their leadership.”

      However, China, which is a mentor nation for North Korea, has said it would support only limited sanctions against North Korea centering on the rogue nation missiles and weapons programs.

      On the one hand, Bush said, “The United States remains committed to diplomacy” in dealing with the situation. However, Washington also aims to counter and defeat any weapons- tipped missiles that North Korea might fire at the United States or its allies, such as South Korea or Japan.

      And that would include forming a ballistic missile shield.

      “The United States … reserves all options to defend our friends and our interests in the region against the threats from North Korea,” Bush said. “So, in response to North Korea’s provocation, we’ll increase defense cooperation with our allies, including cooperation on ballistic missile defense to protect against North Korean aggression, and cooperation to prevent North Korea from exporting nuclear and missile technologies.”

      Some military analysts and Department of Defense policymakers see a great potential danger in the possibility that the cash-strapped North Korea might sell one or more nuclear weapons to rogue states or terrorist groups. Military analysts estimate that North Korea possesses 10 or so nuclear weapons.

      “Our goals remain clear: peace and security in Northeast Asia and a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula,” Bush said, without specifying just what the United States might do to remove nukes from the peninsula. “We will take the necessary actions to achieve these goals,” he said. “We will work with the United Nations. We’ll support our allies in the region. And together, we will ensure that North Korea understands the consequences if it continues down its current path.”

      But the question here is just what can be done that would punish the already-isolated rogue regime.

      While China might approve limited sanctions on North Korean military assets, it seems unlikely that China would use the formidable leverage it has with North Korea by cutting off shipments of food, oil and commerce to the peninsular regime. Both China and South Korea have propped up the rule of Kim Jong Il, and fear that if the North Korean government collapses, there would be an inundating rush of refugees, starving and desperate, charging out of North Korea into the south, and northward into China.

      Bush noted that North Korea repeatedly has made agreements not to develop weapons, only to renounce those promises. And the isolated communist regime has walked away from negotiations repeatedly over the past decade or more.

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