The Defense Department announced that a final environmental statement designating a preferred location for a new ballistic missile interceptor site has been delayed again and will be further studied as part the department’s broad review of U.S. missile defense policy. “We will not be able to provide additional information” on the additional site until the ballistic missile defense review concludes, said Leah Garton, a Missile Defense Agency spokesperson, in a May 19 email to Arms Control Today.
The policy review, to be completed by the end of the year, will “identify ways to strengthen missile-defense capabilities, rebalance homeland and theater defense priorities and provide the necessary policy and strategy framework for the nation’s missile defense systems,” according to a Defense Department press release on May 5. The review could significantly alter long-standing policy and have far-reaching implications for U.S. strategic relationships with Russia and China. (See ACT, May 2017.)
The current system to protect the U.S. homeland against a limited, long-range missile attack, known as the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system, consists of interceptor sites in Alaska and California. Pentagon officials have repeatedly stated that there is no military requirement for a third site and that the estimated $3-4 billion price tag would be better spent to upgrade the existing GMD system. (See ACT, January/February 2017.)—KINGSTON REIF