There is no guaranteed defence against ballistic missiles—yet

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THANKS largely to Kim Jong Un (aka “Little Rocket Man”), missile defence of the American homeland is a hot topic. Next month the Trump administration is expected to publish a review of the nation’s defences against ballistic-missile attack. Funding for the Missile Defence Agency (MDA) is likely to exceed $11bn for 2018, over $3bn more than the president’s original request (assuming Congress can come up with a deal on the overall budget). An emergency request of nearly $5bn for additional “missile defence and defeat” funding was made in November.

The intelligence agencies had assured Mr Trump when he took office that not until 2020, possibly even 2022, would Mr Kim have a reliable intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). That relatively comforting assessment was blown apart in July when North Korea successfully tested two missiles with the range to hit cities in the continental United States, and, in September, when it conducted an underground explosion of what appears to have been a…Continue reading

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