The Pentagon claims a Navy warship successfully intercepted a mock ICBM for the first time. But while this technology is presented as a way to prevent North Korea from attacking the US, questions remain about how it will impact tensions with Russia, China and Iran…
For the first time ever, a US Navy guided missile destroyer shot down an inter-continental ballistic missile in a test that the Pentagon claims is necessary in order to enhance National Security. The test was carried out in the Pacific Ocean, north-east of Hawaii on Tuesday. In a statement, the Missile Defense Agency said they plan to use the technology as a back-up to their ground-based homeland defense interceptors, in case of an attack targeting US soil.
The agency went on to note that the flight test “satisfies a Congressional mandate to evaluate the feasibility” of the destroyer’s ability to defeat an ICBM threat before the end of 2020. That order comes as the US prepares for possible nuclear conflicts with Russia, China, Iran—and North Korea. But while President Trump has had his share of historic moments with Kim Jong-Un, Joe Biden is promising a very different approach.
“They said, why are you moving your missile defense up so close? Why are you moving more forces here? Why are you continue to do military maneuvers with South Korea? I said because North Korea is a problem and we’re going to continue to do it so we can control them,” Biden said during the final presidential debate. “What has he done? He’s legitimized North Korea. He’s talked about his good buddy, who’s a thug. A thug. And he talks about how we’re better off.”
Experts are also arguing that the latest test from the US could be seen as a message to China — after months of the two countries increasing their military presence in the Indo-Pacific. Beijing launched two “aircraft carrier killer” missiles into the South China Sea back in August, which was seen as a warning to Washington.
When it comes to Iran, Biden was critical of Trump’s decision to pull out of the 2015 nuclear deal secured by the Obama Administration. But with mounting pressure from Israel and Saudi Arabia, warning about Iran’s nuclear capabilities, it’s not clear if a Biden Administration would move to resurrect the deal and lift sanctions altogether.
As for Russia—Moscow has repeatedly offered to extend its last remaining nuclear treaty with Washington, after the Trump Administration pulled out of the INF Treaty in 2019. But after months of stalling, the US has yet to secure a short-term extension and the New START Treaty is set to expire just two weeks after Biden is set to take office.
Now, it remains to be seen if Washington’s latest missile test will be met with similar actions from the countries it sees as its top rivals going into 2021.