Report: US Can't Protect Itself From North Korean Nuclear Attacks
American missile defense system is a 'disaster'
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 14, 2016 3:49 PM CDT
People watch a TV news channel airing an image of North Korea's ballistic missile launch.   (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

(Newser) – Uh-oh. A 60-page report released Thursday by the Union of Concerned Scientists says America's current defense system is "simply unable to protect the US public" from nuclear attacks by the likes of Iran and North Korea. The report calls the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system (GMD) a "system in tatters" and recommends the US stop expanding it before fixing its existing problems, the Los Angeles Times reports. According to the International Business Times, the GMD fires interceptor missiles based in California and Alaska into space, where they destroy approaching enemy nuclear warheads. Or at least that's what's supposed to happen. A physicist who co-authored the report tells Reuters the GMD is a "disaster."

The problems started in 2004 when the Bush administration exempted the GMD from what Reuters calls "normal oversight and accountability." It didn't get much better under Obama, who ordered the interceptor fleet to be increased from 30 to 44 by the end of 2017. After spending approximately $40 billion, the US has a defense system that can't even pass "heavily scripted" tests. The GMD has been tested only nine times since 2004. It failed six of those tests despite GMD personnel having access to enemy missile speed and trajectory and the location of the target, none of which they would have in a real-life scenario. In a recent test, the interceptor's thrusters failed—something that happens with regularity—causing it to miss its target. The Pentagon called the test "successful" anyway. (A German man claimed to have found Nazi nukes.)