MURKOWSKI SAYS NOW IS NOT THE TIME TO CUT MISSILE DEFENSE
CITES NEW THREATS FROM NORTH KOREA
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Citing news reports that North Korea may be preparing to test a long-range, nuclear warhead capable missile that could reach Alaska, U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said today that now is not the time to cut missile defense funding as a key senator recently suggested.
Murkowski was responding to news reports that said North Korea has built a new launch center for long-range missiles and that recent satellite images showed a North Korean train thought to be carrying a Taepodong-2 missile. Experts believe those missiles are capable of reaching as far as Alaska. North Korea test-fired a Taepodong-2 missile three years ago but the test was reportedly a failure.
“As recently as July 2006, our ground based missile defense system was brought to the operational level for the first time to address North Korea’s launch of seven ballistic missiles,” Murkowski said. “The troubling decision by the government of North Korea last week to nullify its agreements with South Korea coupled with its recent statements regarding the prospects of nuclear disarmament both serve to highlight the need to maintain and improve our Nation’s ballistic missile defense.”
The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Carl Levin of Michigan, recently told reporters that the budget crunch might necessitate cutting the missile defense budget.
“I hope that we will never have to prove that our missile defense capability works in response to a missile from a hostile power, but this is absolutely the wrong time in history for our Nation to let its guard down,” Murkowski continued. “As Alaska’s senior senator and as a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I will fight to maintain funding for missile defense.”
Murkowski is especially concerned about reports that the Obama administration may reduce funding for a planned expansion of the missile defense capability at Fort Greely. Additional missiles are slated to be sited on a second missile field on the Alaska installation. The administration was expected to request funding for completion of the missile field in the Fiscal Year 2010 budget.