Expert warns US ‘may not be able to stop’ North Korean nuclear missiles

In the wake of the continued weapons testing by North Korea, Pentagon conducted a missile defense test on May 30.

The Pentagon Missile Defense Agency launched an interceptor rocket from an underground silo at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California and it destroyed an intercontinental-range missile fired from the Pacific. The Pentagon released video on Wednesday of the test.

While many see this as an encouraging sign of the nation's preparedness against the threats posed by North Korea, John F. Tierney is skeptical.

Tierney, a former congressman and current director of the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, writes in a recent New York Times op-ed that due to various limitations, such tests may not be enough to fully defend against a North Korea missile.

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"Each is highly scripted to maximize success," Tierney wrote. "The timing and other details are provided in advance, information that no real enemy would provide. The weather and time of day are just right for an intercept. An adversary would use complex countermeasures, such as decoys, alongside the real missile to try to fool the defense system, but only simplistic versions of this trick have been included. Under realistic testing conditions, the program's success rate would almost certainly be lower."

Tierney cites other experts who are also doubtful about the effectiveness of such a system in a real-life situation.

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Furthermore, he notes that many scientists have criticized the program. They have suggested major changes or a complete redesigned.

In addition to reforming the program, Tierney suggests, "If lawmakers are serious about defending the homeland from rogue states like North Korea, they should prioritize diplomatic action."

Meanwhile, the Trump administration has indicated that all options are on the table when it comes to North Korea.

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Vice President Mike Pence had particularly strong words for the regime, commenting in April that the U.S. and its allies will "bring economic and diplomatic pressure to bear on the regime in North Korea, and we will do so until they abandon their nuclear and ballistic missile programs."

Pence also warned, "The United States of America will always seek peace, but under President Trump, the shield stands guard and the sword stands ready."