Trump promises ‘billions’ more for missile defenses

Trump promises ‘billions’ more for missile defenses
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President Trump on Thursday said his administration could unveil a plan as early as next week to add billions for anti-missile defenses in response to recent North Korean threats.

“We’re going to be increasing our budget by many billions of dollars because of North Korea and other reasons having to do with the anti-missile [aspect],” Trump told reporters at his golf club in Bedminster, N.J.

“We’ll probably be able to report that over the next week,” Trump added. 

The Trump administration has requested billions of dollars in missile defense technology for fiscal 2018, but the figure is actual lower than in the prior year. 

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The White House asked for $821 million for the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) program, down from $1 billion last year. GMD is meant to protect the country against a limited nuclear attack and is the only system that could intercept a long-range ballistic missile warhead.

“As you know, we reduced [anti-missile spending] by 5 percent but I’ve decided I don’t want that,” said Trump, who spoke to reporters following a meeting with national security adviser H.R. McMaster and chief of staff John Kelly.

“We’re going to be increasing the anti-missile by a substantial number of billions,” Trump said.

The move will likely be welcomed by defense hawks who have pushed an increase, including Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), who in May introduced a bill that asks for additional Ground-based Interceptors in Alaska and California.

Trump’s budget, released in May, also asked for $451 million for the Long-Range Standoff missile, up from $95 million last year. The yet-to-be produced nuclear cruise missile can be fired from a fighter jet and is meant to aid the United States bomber fleet.

Extra funding was also requested for the Space-based Infrared System, a satellite system that warns of incoming missile attacks. The White House wants $1.4 billion for that, up from $500 million.

Trump also said he hoped to “de-nuke the world,” but asserted the United States would maintain its nuclear stockpile and capability until then.

“I know that President Obama said global warming is the biggest threat. I totally disagree,” he said. “I’d like to de-nuke the world. I would like Russia, the United States and China and Pakistan and many other countries that have nuclear weapons [to] get rid of them.

“Until such time that they do, we will be the most powerful nuclear nation on earth, by far.”

Trump’s statement comes amid heightened tensions with North Korea after several ballistic missile tests last month.

Trump on Tuesday ratcheted up his rhetoric, saying North Korea should not make any more threats to the U.S. or “they will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.”

He doubled down on that statement Thursday, saying that perhaps it wasn’t “tough enough.”