Washington, D.C.: President Donald Trump called on Thursday for dramatically broadening US defences against missile attacks, outlining a costly and scientifically unproven plan for developing lasers and space sensors to defend all of US territory from ballistic missile threats.

“Our strategy is grounded in one overriding objective: to detect and destroy every type of missile attack against any American target, whether before or after launch,” Trump said at the Pentagon as the administration released its long-awaited missile defence strategy.

Trump’s expansive vision of an impenetrable US missile shield — one first envisaged by President Ronald Reagan 35 years ago — goes well beyond the Pentagon’s technical and scientific capacity, the reality that grounded most of Reagan’s “Star Wars” initiative.

The plan also does not reflect the administration’s near-term goals, which remain focused on developing the capability to knock out limited missile strikes by Iran or North Korea and, at least theoretically, new short- and medium-range weapons being developed by China and Russia that could threaten Europe and Asia.

But Trump used the speech to press his “America first” agenda, fitting his call for expanded missile defence in with broadsides on Democrats in Congress for blocking his proposed border wall and on US allies for failing to pay enough for their own defence.

When Trump attacked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for opposing the border wall, and said Democrats had been “hijacked” by the “fringe” and “radical left”, the audience of uniformed military officers and Defence Department officials sat silent.

Democrats in Congress, even some who have backed the development of the current limited US missile defence system, questioned Trump’s vision of a vast shield over the nation.
Los Angeles Times

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