I am for nuclear abolition, but the hypocrisy of the nuclear powers is outrageous: why is it okay for the U.S. to have missiles and nuclear warheads, but the countries that are consistently threatened by the U.S. are not allowed to have these same weapons?
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Hawaii warned of missile threat
Pyongyang could improve accuracy of weapon within 3 years, Pentagon says
By Julian E. Barnes
Los Angeles Times
WASHINGTON – North Korea may be capable of hitting Hawai’i and the West Coast of the United States with its missiles within three years, but it is unlikely to be able to deliver a nuclear warhead in that time frame, a top U.S. defense official said yesterday.
The assessment came as North Korea’s rulers show signs of preparing for additional weapons tests in the face of international condemnation and new United Nations sanctions.
The estimate of three to five years, given in congressional testimony by Marine Gen. James Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is longer than horizons estimated previously by the U.S. military. It follows North Korea’s most recent weapons tests, including a nuclear detonation last month and a multistage missile launch in April that indicated progress but highlighted flaws in the country’s missile technology.
Cartwright outlined the potential threat posed by North Korean missiles in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee. Pyongyang’s Taepodong-2 missile is designed to reach the U.S. West Coast, but analysts say they believe the missile is inaccurate and so far has failed to reach a third stage, a critical leap to be able to hit the United States.
Cartwright said Pyongyang might be able to overcome its technical problems in three to five years.
But Cartwright said that horizon did not include the time needed to develop an actual warhead. He did not estimate how long it might take Pyongyang to develop a warhead small enough to put on a long-range missile.
Cartwright stressed that his assessment represented an estimate. “My crystal ball’s not going to be any better than anyone else’s,” he said.
Under questioning from Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., Cartwright said he was “90 percent plus” confident that the United States could shoot down a missile launched from North Korea.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates has proposed trimming the overall U.S. missile-defense budget but has requested $900 million to maintain and improve interceptor missiles based in California and Alaska.