Byline: Bill Gertz, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
President Bush specifically names North Korea as a key threat in an unpublished order on missile defense and says such a system is needed as a hedge against military surprises and intelligence failures.
Mr. Bush also says in the presidential order, known as National Security Presidential Directive-23, that his administration will develop a strategic "triad" of long-range conventional and nuclear weapons, missile defenses, and an industrial and research infrastructure.
"Some states, such as North Korea, are aggressively pursuing the development of weapons of mass destruction and long-range missiles as a means of coercing the United States and our allies," the directive says.
The White House released a "fact sheet" on the directive May 20, but it made no reference to North Korea, in an apparent effort to avoid upsetting the communist regime and continue talks on Pyongyang's nuclear programs.
The directive was signed by Mr. Bush on Dec. 16 but kept secret until last week.
A copy of the full six-page directive to top national-security officials was obtained by The Washington Times. The unclassified directive is signed "George W. Bush."
The document says the missile-defense system to be fielded next year and in 2005 will include a combination of ground-based missile interceptors, sea-based interceptors and Patriot PAC-3 systems, as well as sensors on land, sea and in space.
"In addition, the United States will seek permission respectively from the [United Kingdom] and Denmark to upgrade early warning radar in Fylingdales and Thule, Greenland, as part of our capability," the directive says.
Radar in Britain and Denmark also was not mentioned in the White House fact sheet, apparently in an effort to avoid arousing missile-defense opponents in those nations.
A White House spokeswoman had no immediate comment on why the directive was kept secret or why the details mentioned in the directive were omitted from the fact sheet.
The systems to be deployed for advanced missile defense include additional ground-based and sea-based interceptors, deployment of the Army's Theater High-Altitude Area Defense, and the Air Force's Airborne Laser systems.
Missile defenses also will include "a family of boost-phase and midcourse hit-to-kill interceptors based on sea-, air- and ground-based platforms," the directive says. It also mentions enhanced sensors and the development and testing of space-based defenses.
North Korea is a key reason Mr. Bush ordered the rushed deployment of missile defenses by next year. The first missile interceptor base is being built in Alaska as an emergency measure to blunt North Korea's threat of an attack.
North Korea conducted flight-tests of a missile capable of reaching the United States in 1998 and in October announced that it was abandoning a 1994 agreement that was supposed to have halted its nuclear-weapons program.
The Bush administration held talks with North Korea last month in Beijing and is expected to hold another round of discussions on Pyongyang's nuclear arms program next month.
The directive says past military surprises and intelligence failures highlight the need to build a system capable of …