Just a day after North Korea tested yet another missile, the US military will counter—testing an ICBM interceptor from the Vandenberg Air Force Base north of Los Angeles.
While Pyongyang’s launch on Monday was unexpected, Tuesday’s test in California is no coincidence. Despite repeated (relatively toothless) rebukes from the international community, North Korea continues to rattle sabres in East Asia. The reclusive regime has fired nine missiles in 2017 so far, ramping up pressure on the Trump administration—which has promised to harden its policy stance on the North.
Tuesday’s test over the Pacific Ocean is one such policy. While the ICBM interceptor system has been tested 17 times since 1999, it’s almost-50% failure rate leaves much to be desired. Despite this, the Pentagon is committed to rolling out 14 additional interceptors to bases in Alaska and California this year, and asked Congress for an additional $7.9 billion in last week’s budget.
But missiles are just one facet of Washington’s strategy to counter Pyongyang’s nuclear threat. Perhaps a more cost-effective approach would be through cyber-sabotage—neutralising North Korea’s missiles before they even left the ground.
Simon is the founder of Foreign Brief who served as managing director from 2015 to 2021. A lawyer by training, Simon has worked as an analyst and adviser in the private sector and government. Simon’s desire to help clients understand global developments in a contextualised way underpinned the establishment of Foreign Brief. This aspiration remains the organisation’s driving principle.