National missile defense
It is estimated that China has about 240 nuclear warheads including those intended for its ballistic submarine fleet which is not yet operational. China also has about 150 mostly mobile land-based missiles capable of striking any U.S. city. For more than 50 years, China has also been constructing a network of highly reinforced military bunkers and 3,000 miles of underground tunnels in which to hide and protect its strategic nuclear force. It has also developed Multiple Independently-targeted Reentry Vehicle (MIRV) technology which allows multiple warheads to be mounted on a single missile to destroy several targets. China is apparently pursuing a strategy of détente in which its missile force could survive a first strike launched against it and still be able to retaliate with a second-strike launch. Some say we need to build a defense against this threat. However, the Chinese and Russians are both outspoken opponents of a U.S. ballistic missile defense system. They worry that such a system could negate their second-strike capability and leave them vulnerable to a first strike attack. Analysts say this could force them into attacking us first. They say our strategic relationship with China and Russia is quickly becoming a copy of the one we had with the Soviet Union before the Berlin wall came down. They also claim Beijing and Moscow can easily build enough ICBMs to exceed the interception capability of any conceivable missile defense system. These nations have warned that deploying such a system would trigger a new arms race.

North Korea is quickly becoming a threat to our security. It has at least a dozen nuclear warheads, some miniaturized for missile use. Its missiles can now strike Guam and Hawaii and will soon be able to reach our West Coast. To counter this threat, we have been developing a Nationwide Missile Defense (NMD) program since the 1990s. The NMD program has limited scope and is designed to counter a relatively small attack from an unsophisticated adversary. NMD is not capable of protecting us from a large-scale ICBM/MIRV attack launched by China or Russia. In response to North Korea’s threats, our Pentagon has deployed 14 of these missile interceptors on Guam. To Russia’s displeasure, we have also been installing these interceptors in Europe to protect allies from countries like Iran.

Aside from the Cold War déjà vu, missile defense opponents say we are far from deploying an ICBM shield. The requirements of an anti-ballistic missile system are considerable, and include the ability to discern missiles from decoys and destroying multiple targets in space. Supporters say this will add to our security. Critics, including many scientists, say we do not have the technology to reliably “hit a bullet with a bullet.” They claim that building such a system will waste hundreds of billions of dollars, start an arms race, and increase the likelihood of a nuclear first strike against us. They also warn of the consequences of depending on a missile defense system that doesn’t work should we be attacked.

Pending Legislation: None

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Poll Opening Date
March 26, 2020
Poll Closing Date
April 1, 2020

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