Key Republican: Defense bill will 'double down' on warning to North Korea

Key Republican: Defense bill will 'double down' on warning to North Korea
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A key Republican is promising to use this year's annual defense policy bill to “double down” on the message sent to North Korea by Tuesday's successful missile intercept test.

"This test is a warning to the dictator in North Korea that he won't be allowed to threaten the U.S. and its allies,” Rep. Mac ThornberryWilliam (Mac) McClellan ThornberryPelosi arrives in Jordan with bipartisan congressional delegation Furious Republicans prepare to rebuke Trump on Syria Five ways Trump's Syria decision spells trouble MORE (R-Texas), the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said in a statement Wednesday.

“In the [National Defense Authorization Act] this year, we will double-down on that message by making significant new investments to make good on the president's promise to develop and deploy a 'state of the art' missile defense system," he said.

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On Tuesday, the Pentagon tested for the first time the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system’s ability to intercept an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

The agency said the test was successful and displayed the United States’ ability to outpace North Korea’s missile threat through 2020.

President Trump has promised to spend more on missile defense, calling for a “state of the art” system in a policy position posted on the White House website after the inauguration.

“We need a form of shield. We want to protect our country,” Trump said at a campaign rally in September.

In that vein, Trump ordered a ballistic missile defense review as part of his broader January executive action on military readiness. The Pentagon officially kicked off the review earlier this month.

For his part, Thornberry has introduced a $2.1 billion bill on Indo-Asia-Pacific security that he plans to fold into this year’s National Defense Authorization Act.

For missile defense, the bill would authorize $1 billion for interceptors for the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system or lower-tier air and missile defense interceptors, such as for the Patriot system. It would also authorize $15 million for missile defense exercises with Japan, South Korea and Australia.

North Korea continues to pursue an aggressive testing schedule with its missile program, ratcheting up regional tensions.

On Monday, the country carried out its third test in three weeks, described as a successful test of a short-range ballistic missile.

Pentagon officials have said Tuesday’s test was not timed specifically because of current tensions with North Korea, but that Pyongyang’s aggressiveness puts into focus the GMD’s necessity.

Critics of the GMD decry its hefty price tag and spotty track record. It has cost about $40 billion and has failed eight of 18 tests since 1999.