N. Korea Missile Threat Increases; U.S. Two Years from defense.(PAGE ONE)
Byline: Bill Gertz, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
North Korea is continuing to develop long-range missiles that threaten the United States and a basic defense system against them is about two years from deployment, the Pentagon's missile-defense chief said yesterday.
Air Force Lt. Gen. Ronald Kadish, director of the Missile Defense Agency, said North Korea's first long-range missile test in 1998 caught U.S. intelligence by surprise. As a result, missile-defense development efforts have shifted to meeting a range of threats rather than any specific danger from a single nation.
"Along the way, if we get threatened by North Korea, I think the American people understand we would not just sit by with five missiles in the hole and do nothing," Gen. Kadish said.
Asked if North Korea was continuing to develop its long-range Taepodong-2 missile without any flight tests, Gen. Kadish told a group of defense reporters: "All the indications that I see and watch, the answer is yes."
The Defense Intelligence Agency stated in a report made public by the Senate last month that North Korea's 1999 ban on missile flight tests was having "minimal" impact on continued development of the Taepodong-2 (TD-2).
"By precluding flight testing, the moratorium probably would delay deployment of TD-2 missiles as long as it remains in place," the DIA said, noting that the missile could be deployed without a flight test, although it would be unlikely.
"North Korea likely perceives its TD-2 ballistic missile capability primarily as a tool for deterrence and political coercion," the DIA said. "During a conflict, the North also could attempt to strike U.S. and U.S. interests with ballistic missiles, if North Korea's leadership were attacked directly or was facing imminent destruction."
The DIA stated that North Korea had one or two nuclear weapons.
Gen. Kadish said U.S. efforts to defend against threats of missile attack no longer are focused on the former Soviet Union and China but rogue states.
"It's not about the Soviet Union," he said. "It's about North Korea, it's about Iran, it's about Iraq, it's about Libya and other states that might threaten us in the process."
Iran is continuing to test missiles and "they continue to make progress," he said.
Nations that are building missile systems also appear willing to share missile technology, he said.
"They are moving from the capability of having very good systems in short-range missiles, to the intermediate and longer-range missiles that we're seeing," Gen. Kadish said. "And that's the trend."
North Korea, Iran, Iraq and Libya are key missile-developing states of concern against which the United States is preparing to build defenses, he said. …