Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel has announced that the Pentagon will spend an extra $1 billion to add 14 more interceptors to the Alaskan missile defense system, insisting the expense proves “that the United States stands firm against aggression.”
Hagel cited the “North Korean threat” as justification for the move, and said the money would come from scrapping the missile defense system in Europe, though he added that the US commitment to defend Europe from its own equally illusory threats would not change.
North Korea claimed it was planning to nuke the United States, but does not have missiles that could reach the US in the first place, nor the ability to transition its nuclear test explosions into a workable warhead.
At the same time, the costly US missile defense system which is getting the extra interceptors has a checkered history, at best, with tests suggesting that system has “very limited effectiveness” at knocking down practice targets in optimal conditions, and would be unlikely to stop a North Korean missile, if one both existed and was fired.
Since North Korea regularly makes over the top threats and doesn’t follow through, the recent comments were, most analysts believe, just a rhetorical ploy. The US move to counter those phony threats with a non-working missile defense system is similarly entirely for show, but comes with a pretty steep price tag.
The US spends in excess of $10 billion annually on missile defense systems, an amount that is always growing dramatically and which by itself rivals the entire budget of the North Korean military. Though North Korea has made much of its efforts to improve its long-range missile technology, the only visible change has been convincing the US to throw more money at its own dubious system to counter the “threat.”