Should US shoot down North Korean missiles

Washington Examiner Editorial:
Early Tuesday morning, North Korea fired an intermediate range ballistic missile over Japan's northern Hokkaido island. It broke up shortly afterwards over the western Pacific Ocean.

With this provocation, North Korean tyrant Kim Jong Un has blunted American optimism that he might be willing to trim his ballistic saber rattling. It is clear that further U.S. action is required to force him into constructive diplomacy. The time has come for the Trump administration to take action.

An invasion of North Korea would entail an immense loss of life and is clearly not on the cards. But there are measures a long way short of such hostilities that could prove effective and which President Trump should now employ. He should issue a clear statement of policy that the U.S. military will from now on shoot down North Korean intermediate or intercontinental ballistic missiles if Kim launches them in a way that poses a threat to America and its allies.

Trump should first affirm that he will unilaterally shoot down missiles threatening U.S. territories. But he should also seek an agreement with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan towards joint action. If a bilateral agreement were to be reached, it would attract diplomatic support from the European Union and other powers. This is important in establishing a new international norm, that ballistic missile aggression will not be tolerated.

How does one define a launch that is "threatening," a threshold that would justify downing a North Korean missile? The definition should apply to any launch which puts the missile on a course that would transit or strike a U.S. ally, or come within 700 miles of an American territory such as Guam. This would exclude the destruction of short-range missiles or missiles on their launchpads, which could invite international suggestions that the U.S. was escalating conflict. At the same time, however, it would be sufficient to secure American interests and send an unmistakable message of resolve and demonstrate technical capabilites that should make Kim pause.
It should be considered an opportunity to test launch phase missile defense to go along with the THAAD system.  The US should also expect that such a shoot down may trigger a much wide war with North Korea and be prepared to act accordingly.


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