President Bill Clinton’s Secretary of Defense William Cohen writes in today’s Washington Times:

This weekend, North Korea followed through on its threat and tested a nuclear weapon – one far more powerful than the weapon it tested in 2006. In recent weeks, the regime has tested an intercontinental ballistic missile, expelled international monitors, declared that it will withdraw from international six-party talks, and threatened to restart the nuclear facilities that provided the atomic fuel for its weapons.

In 1998, North Korea tested a ballistic missile that traveled slightly more than 1,000 miles. With this most recent test, Pyongyang succeeded in launching a missile that traveled nearly 2,000 miles. One day, it might be possible for North Korea to place parts of the U.S. within range of its missiles. It would, of course, be folly for North Korea to consider doing so, but its mere possession of such capability would reduce the scope of U.S. foreign-policy options in dealing with the regime.

Since words have no impact upon North Korea’s stratagems and actions, the U.S. should say little in response and give that country even less when it comes to economic assistance. Kim Jong-il has built a throne of swords; he should be made to sit on it.

It should be noted that the rationale for constructing a missile-defense system was not only to defend our homeland against the mad or messianic of limited means, but also to serve as a last resort against an accidental launch of an ICBM by a major power.

Reducing the funding commitment to our missile-defense system by $1.4 billion, as the Obama administration has done, sends the signal that we do not take the threats of rogue regimes seriously, and are willing to take the risk that current technologies are sufficient to prevent devastating accidents or miscalculations.

Watch Heritage’s documentary on the necessity for missile defense: 33 Minutes.