White House Opposes House Missile-Defense Moves

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A Patriot Advanced Capability 3 interceptor is launched from Omelek Island during a test in October 2012. The White House this week rejected several missile-defense initiatives proposed by the Republican-controlled House.
National Journal
Sebastian Sprenger
May 21, 2014, 10:03 a.m.

Sev­er­al de­fens­ive and of­fens­ive mis­sile-themed pro­vi­sions that ori­gin­ated in the Re­pub­lic­an-con­trolled House have drawn op­pos­i­tion from the White House.

The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion de­cried as too risky and too ex­pens­ive a push by law­makers to ac­cel­er­ate the de­ploy­ment to Po­land of a land-based ver­sion of the Ae­gis mis­sile de­fense sys­tem by some­time in 2016, and short-range an­ti­mis­sile cap­ab­il­it­ies by late 2014.

House mis­sile-de­fense ad­voc­ates had in­ser­ted lan­guage to that ef­fect in­to the fisc­al 2015 de­fense au­thor­iz­a­tion bill. The le­gis­la­tion is ex­pec­ted to be con­sidered on the House floor this week.

Meant by its sup­port­ers as a coun­ter­weight to Mo­scow’s re­cent moves, the speedi­er field­ing of de­fens­ive sys­tems would “not change Rus­sia’s se­cur­ity cal­cu­la­tion in Europe,” the White House ar­gued in a Monday state­ment of ad­min­is­tra­tion policy.

U.S. of­fi­cials also fear that short-range an­ti­mis­sile weaponry de­ployed to Po­land would “lim­it the abil­ity of the United States to meet its world­wide op­er­a­tion­al mis­sile de­fense re­quire­ments.”

The White House also op­posed bill lan­guage that would force the Pentagon to keep ex­ist­ing in­ter­con­tin­ent­al bal­list­ic mis­sile silos avail­able for pos­sible use. The pro­vi­sion in ques­tion was spear­headed by law­makers from states host­ing these fa­cil­it­ies.

“While it is the pres­id­ent’s de­term­in­a­tion that 50 of the cur­rent 450 Minute­man 3 silos will re­main in a non-de­ployed — warm — status, this pro­vi­sion would tie the hands of all pres­id­ents with re­spect to force struc­ture through [Feb­ru­ary] 2021,” the state­ment of ad­min­is­tra­tion policy reads.

Of­fi­cials lamen­ted as “pre­ma­ture and po­ten­tially waste­ful” lan­guage to set aside $20 mil­lion for the plan­ning and design of an East Coast mis­sile field of long-range in­ter­cept­ors. Law­makers had in­ser­ted to pro­vi­sion with an eye to­ward boost­ing the de­fens­ive cap­ab­il­ity against a po­ten­tial at­tack from North Korea and else­where.

The Pentagon did not re­quest money for an East Coast site in its fisc­al 2015 budget pro­pos­al. De­fense of­fi­cials have said they re­main un­sure if such a site is ne­ces­sary.

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