The system designed to defend American cities and towns against a nuclear attack by North Korea is “simply unable to protect the U.S. public” and will remain ineffective unless Congress exerts rigorous oversight, according to a new report.
The report, to be released Thursday by the Union of Concerned Scientists, recommends that the Obama administration halt the expansion of the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system, known as GMD, until its technical problems have been solved.
“The story of this system is a cautionary tale about how the lack of appropriate oversight of a politically charged missile defense program has led to a system in tatters,” said the report, written by three physicists with expertise in missile defense.
“Despite more than a decade of development and a bill of $40 billion, the GMD system is simply unable to protect the U.S. public,’’ the authors wrote.
The GMD system is intended to thwart a “limited” nuclear strike by a non-superpower adversary, such as North Korea or Iran.
In the event of an attack, rocket interceptors at Vandenberg Air Force Base in Santa Barbara County and Ft. Greely, Alaska, would be launched from underground silos. Once in space, the interceptors would separate from their booster rockets and attempt to slam into and “kill” enemy warheads.