GOP lawmaker: US must bolster missile defense

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The United States should respond to North Korea’s likely nuclear test by deploying missile defense systems in South Korea and strengthening its defenses at home, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee said Wednesday.

“The U.S. must work with our South Korean allies to deploy missile defense systems, including THAAD, on the peninsula and work at home to strengthen our homeland missile defenses,” Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) said in a written statement, using an abbreviation for an anti-ballistic missile system called Theater High Altitude Area Defense.

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“We must also take immediate steps to strengthen our own nuclear deterrent, which is the foundation for our other defense capabilities,” he said.

North Korea rattled the globe Tuesday night when it announced it successfully tested a hydrogen bomb. If true, it would indicate significant progress in the country’s nuclear program, which previously tested less powerful atomic weapons.

Monitoring groups detected seismic activity that would indicate a nuclear test but are working to confirm it. Some have cast doubt on whether North Korea has the capability to produce a hydrogen bomb.

In his statement, Thornberry said the test reminds the United States that there are global threats beyond Russia, Iran and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

Thornberry also joined other GOP politicians in slamming the Obama administration, saying a lack of leadership led to North Korea's nuclear test.

"Unfortunately, the view around the world is that U.S. leadership is in decline while the administration's inaction only fuels those concerns,” he said. 

Rep. Randy ForbesRandy ForbesGOP rep faces recount in close primary race Virginia GOP rep loses primary Supreme Court to review Virginia state voting districts MORE (R-Va.), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, also criticized American “weakness” and linked last year's Iran nuclear deal with a bolder North Korea.

“This test fits a disturbing trend of emboldened American adversaries testing the limits of the international order without fear of real American opposition, and it also reminds us of the dangers in relying on nuclear deals with rogue states,” he said in a written statement. “From Iran’s missile launch just 1,500 yards from an American aircraft carrier, to China’s first aircraft landing on an artificial formation in the South China Sea and now Pyongyang’s nuclear bomb, this administration has reminded us all of the old axiom that weakness is provocative and only strength can deter.”