THE ARMS RACE (House of Representatives - September 17, 1998)

[Page: H8021]

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under a previous order of the House, the gentleman from California (Mr. Hunter) is recognized for 5 minutes.

Mr. HUNTER. Mr. Speaker, we are in a race, and the participants in the race, along with the United States of America, are nations like North Korea, Iran, Iraq, Communist China, and to some degree, Pakistan and India. The other participants in this race seem to understand that it is a race because they are doing everything that they can to develop offensive missiles that have increasing capability and can go long distances, now almost to the point where this last shot that was fired over Japan by the North Koreans, the so-called Taepo Dong 1 missile, a 3-stage missile, had enough range to reach portions of the United States of America. That is the North Koreans now, years before the CIA ever thought that they would be this far, have now developed a missile that has ICBM capability. That means the capability to reach parts of the United States.

Now, on the other side of the race is the American effort to develop defenses against these missiles, and this American effort really started in 1983 when then President Ronald Reagan told the Nation that we were entering the age of missiles, and that we had to do something about it, and that rather than just have the ability to retaliate; that is, throw our missiles back at that enemy, whoever it might be, we needed to be able to develop the ability to shoot down incoming missiles.

Now, that lesson that Ronald Reagan gave us in 1983 was driven home in the early 1990s during the Gulf War when we saw ballistic missiles, Scuds at that time, for the first time in the history of warfare, being delivered on a battlefield. My colleagues may recall, Mr. Speaker, those Scud missiles destroyed a number of American barracks and killed a number of American soldiers.

We shot some of them down with our Patriots. Our Patriots were the Model T of missile defenses. They are very slow. According to MIT, they did not hit any of the Scud missiles. According to the U.S. Army, our Patriots shooting at those Scuds had close to an 80 percent success rate. Probably the truth is somewhere in-between zero and 80 percent.

But now, our potential adversaries, like the North Koreans, are racing to develop offensive missiles, and Mr. Speaker, we are stalled in the development of our ability to defend against those missiles.

If we look at the so-called PAC-3 upgrade, that is just an upgraded Patriot. That is maybe, if not the Model T, that is maybe the 1965 Chevy of our missile defenses. We are not going to even deploy that until the year 2000. And, Mr. Speaker, the so-called Navy Lower Tier, that is a system that cannot even shoot down the type of Dong I missile, 3-stage missile that the North Koreans just fired, that they now have and have the ability to fire right now. That Navy defensive system, so-called Navy Lower Tier, it is a fancy name for the Navy missile defense system, will not even be deployed until 2 years after the next century starts; that is, 2002.

The so-called Airborne Laser that we are working on, we do not deploy that until 2006, and the THAAD system, which has a very difficult time hitting any of its test targets today, even if it is successful and is not terminated, will not be deployed until 2007. And of course, the Navy Upper Tier, and that is a system that barely has enough capability, if everything works out, to knock down this North Korean Taepo Dong I missile, that is not going to be deployed until 2008.

So the North Koreans today have a missile that can out-perform the American defense, and that missile is capable today, and the American defense against that missile is not going to be on line until 10 years from now, in 2008.

So, Mr. Speaker, we have to redouble our efforts. We have to reorder our priorities. We may have to spend some billions of dollars, but we must have a defense against incoming missiles, whether they are incoming missiles coming against our troops who are in theater like our troops in Desert Storm, or coming into American cities.

The first question I ask the Secretary of Defense when he appears before our Committee on National Security is this: Can you stop today a single incoming ballistic missile coming into an American city? And his answer always, and this last year again was, no, we cannot stop a single incoming ballistic missile.

We must change that situation, Mr. Speaker.

[Page: H8022]

END