* US interceptors are now in Alaska, California
* Third site would boost defenses against Iran
* Fort Drum, New York, is said to be a potential site
By Jim Wolf
WASHINGTON, April 25 Republicans who control the
House of Representatives' Armed Services Committee called on
Wednesday for studies on what could become a third
missile-interceptor site in the United States, this one on the
The plan would require the secretary of defense to conduct
an environmental impact review by Dec. 31, 2013, on "possible
locations on the East Coast of the United States for the
deployment of a missile defense site."
U.S. forces currently deploy a combined total of 30
operational missile interceptors in silos in Fort Greely,
Alaska, and Vandenberg Air Force Base in central California.
The three-stage interceptors are part of a layered shield
against limited numbers of missiles that could be fired by a
country like North Korea or Iran, some day potentially carrying
a nuclear warhead.
The proposed step toward a third site is to be considered
Thursday by the Armed Services subcommittee on strategic forces,
an early stage of the crafting of the annual defense
authorization bill that guides military policy.
The proposal was made public by Representative Howard
McKeon, chairman of the full committee, and Representative
Michael Turner, the subcommittee head. Such legislation is
likely to be adopted by the full, Republican-controlled
committee. It would have to be meshed with a companion defense
authorization bill in the Democratic-controlled Senate, which
has not yet put one together.
It was not immediately clear whether the Obama
administration would support such steps toward an East Coast
The House Republicans' measure would require the Pentagon's
Missile Defense Agency to develop a plan for the deployment of
an East Coast site to be operational not later than the end of
Advocates of an East Coast site have said it would bolster
the Boeing Co-managed ground-based shield against any
intercontinental ballistic missiles that could be fired from
Iran. One likely site is Fort Drum in northern New York state,
according to experts.
"The committee is aware that a cost effective missile
defense site located on the East Coast of the United States
could have advantages for the defense of the
United States from ballistic missiles launched from the Middle
East," the bill said.
Baker Spring, a missile-defense expert at the Heritage
Foundation think tank, said current U.S. capabilities for
countering long-range missiles were geared chiefly toward North
Korea, providing greater defense of the western United States
than the east.