The Pentagon is developing a new interceptor missile to counter long-range ballistic weapons that North Korea might field in the future. It is a necessary step to defend the U.S. homeland against a rogue country that might not be deterrable using other means. However, there is a danger the new interceptor could be derailed in its infancy if it runs afoul of New START limits on offensive weapons. The treaty doesn’t limit missile defenses, but it does prohibit using the same first stage from an ICBM on a missile defense system; if that occurs, the missile defense system becomes an ICBM for the purposes of the treaty. Unfortunately, there is a possibility the Pentagon will try to save time and money by using the same first stage on both the interceptor and a replacement of the Minuteman III ICBM. If that were to occur, either the interceptor or the arms control pact would be compromised–or both. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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