The brazen nuclear test performed by North Korea last weekend highlighted our country’s need for a national missile defense system. Democrat leadership in Congress continues to strike at funding for this important program, but North Korea claims to have tested a nuclear device and continues efforts to develop missiles to strike the United States or our allies. Their recent threatening statements are disturbing and Congressional Democrats should repudiate their opposition to a national missile defense system immediately.

It is absurd that Democrat leaders spent the weekend accusing the Bush Administration of failing to respond to the North Korean threat when Congressional Democrats have on consistently voted against this President’s missile defense program – a program that is designed almost specifically for this type of threat.

Recent examples of the Democrat opposition to a national missile defense system include:

S. 1042, S. Amdt. 2427: Rejected 37-60, Date: 11/8/05 (introduced by Senators Levin, Reed, Kerry, Feingold, and Lautenberg to the FY 2006 National Defense Authorization Bill to cut $50 million from missile defense);
S. 2400, S. Amdt. 3338: Rejected 44-56, Date: 6/22/04 (introduced by Senator Levin to the FY 2005 National Defense Authorization Bill to cut $515 million from missile defense);

House of Representatives:
H. Con. Res. 376, CQ Vote #155: Rejected 131-294, Date: 5/17/06 (introduced by Rep. Watt to cut $9.4 billion from missile defense in the FY 2007 Budget Resolution);
H.R. 5122, CQ Vote #142: Rejected 124-301, Date: 5/11/06 (introduced by Rep. Tierney to limit the deployment of Ground-Based interceptors and to halt the deployment of space-based missile interceptors in the FY 2007 Defense Authorization bill);

In addition, earlier this year U.S. Senator Carl LevinCarl Milton LevinOvernight Defense: First group of Afghan evacuees arrives in Virginia | Biden signs Capitol security funding bill, reimbursing Guard | Pentagon raises health protection level weeks after lowering it Biden pays tribute to late Sen. Levin: 'Embodied the best of who we are' Former Colorado Gov. Richard Lamm dead at 85 MORE (the Ranking Democrat on the Armed Services Committee) introduced S. Amdt. 4486 that would have cut $50 million in missile defense funding from the FY07 National Defense Authorization Bill.

Furthermore, House Minority Leader Pelosi clearly announced opposition to missile defense in 2003. “The United States does not need a multi-billion-dollar national missile defense against the possibility of a nuclear-armed intercontinental ballistic missile," said Pelosi.

It is my hope that diplomacy will be successful in the future and that we will never need our missile defense system. That being said, I believe we must be realistic and recognize that the leaders of rogue nations, like North Korea and Iran, are sometimes irrational. We must be committed to ensuring that risk is as limited as possible through a missile defense system, rejecting those who would rather continue to bargain with madmen, and leave us unable to defend ourselves.