Iran's improved Sejil 2 medium-range missile

The Pentagon’s release of the Ballistic Missile Defense Review confirmed that North Korea could be able to deploy a nuclear-tipped ballistic missile capable of striking the United States within the next decade.

The Washington Times reports that the review expressed serious concern over North Korea’s two underground tests and its attempt to develop a long-range missile.

The Pentagon’s review also highlighted U.S. intelligence’s concerns about the Iranian nuclear program and their pursuit of “long-range ballistic missiles.” The report comes a day after Iran announced that it had launched a rocket into space, calling attention to the regime’s serious efforts to gain this dangerous technology.

The real concern is over how the United States can protect against such threats and ensure a credible deterrent to promote regional stability in the Middle East and East Asia. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has requested $8.4 billion dollars for the Missile Defense Agency. The internal structure of this budget will serve to shift the U.S. missile defense posture away from defending against long-range missile attacks and toward countering short- and medium-range missiles. This plan is further outlined in the Ballistic Missile Defense Review Report.

Despite Iran’s nuclear ambitions and the intelligence estimates that North Korea could reach the U.S. with a missile within the decade, the Pentagon plan to deploy advanced variants of the SM-3 missiles will have “some capability to knock out long-range missile warheads” and will not be ready until 2020.

Regarding the canceled deployment of interceptors in Easter Europe, the Heritage Foundation’s Baker Spring writes, “The plan sets up a false choice between long- and short-range defenses in terms of sequencing, when the U.S. needs to field defenses against both short-range and longer-range missiles immediately.”