Today, the House National Security committee reported H. R. 2786, the Theater Missile Defense Improvement Act of 1998, out of committee on a 45-0 vote. Upon final passage, committee Chairman Floyd Spence (R-SC) issued the following statement:
"I am pleased with the committee's strong bipartisan support for enhancing our nation's ability to counter the growing theater ballistic missile threats around the world. North Korea has deployed the No Dong-1 missile. Iran's development of the Shahab-3 missile has proceeded rapidly and could be flight tested within the next year and will have sufficient range to strike Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Israel.
"Unfortunately, our currently deployed missile defense systems were designed against older and slower threats and have only limited capabilities against this new generation of more capable missiles. The speed with which these threats have emerged was unanticipated by the intelligence community, and the U. S. needs to take immediate and meaningful steps to address the problem. The "Theater Missile Defense Improvement Act of 1998" is a bipartisan effort to fund a series of initiatives intended to address the urgent need to enhance the theater ballistic missile program during fiscal year 1998.
"Mr. Weldon, who has spearheaded this effort, has been ahead of both the intelligence community and the Department of Defense in recognizing the seriousness of this rapidly emerging threat and the need for a rapid response. Likewise, Mr. Pickett and Mr. Spratt's efforts have strengthened this legislation and helped make it a strong bipartisan response to a serious threat. I commend all three of the bill's sponsors for crafting a serious response to a real world problem."
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A summary of major provisions contained in H. R. 2786, the Theater Missile Defense Improvement Act of 1998, is attached.H. R. 2786
SUMMARY OF MAJOR PROVISIONS
The recently discovered abilities of North Korea, Iran, and other rogue states to significantly accelerate their ballistic missile development programs has caught the intelligence and policy communities by surprise and increased concern that currently-fielded U. S. theater missile defense (TMD) systems are not prepared to address these new threats. This rapid development of theater ballistic missile (TBM) threats is particularly alarming because the U. S. currently has more than 200,000 military and civilian personnel and their families living and working within reach of these weapons of mass destruction.
The committee believes that the U. S. must take immediate and meaningful steps to reduce the vulnerability to these threats. The "Theater Missile Defense Improvement Act of 1998" is a bipartisan effort to support a series of initiatives during fiscal year 1998 to address the urgent need to enhance the TMD program to meet emerging and unexpected threats. The committee is gratified that, after initial reluctance to endorse any steps beyond its planned programs, the Administration now agrees that additional funding would make a valuable contribution to the enhancement of theater missile defense capabilities.
Enhancement of Theater Missile Defense Programs. The committee believes that efforts to deploy systems to counter the growing theater ballistic missile threat to U. S. military forces must be significantly accelerated. Therefore, the committee authorizes $147 million to ensure, to the extent possible, that the capabilities of U. S. TMD systems keep pace with missile deployments by Iran, North Korea and elsewhere. In authorizing funding, the committee ensures that the recommended program actions are executable in fiscal year 1998, address worldwide TBM threats, are consistent with planned TMD systems and system architectures, and comply with current international agreements. Additionally, all of the authorized amounts are fully offset within the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1998 (Public Law 105-85) and therefore conform to the balanced budget agreement and established discretionary budgetary caps. Specific program funding includes:
Identification of Other Actions. The committee requires the Secretary of Defense to identify additional steps to mitigate the theater missile threat and to take steps to expedite their execution, including cooperative measures between DOD and the Minister of Defense of Israel. The committee also directs the Secretary of Defense to rapidly assess actions that might be taken in the Navy Theater Wide defense system to address near term TBM threats and to report to Congress on any further actions identified to counter TBM threats.
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