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Report: Gaps in US Missile Defenses


A newly-released independent report has criticized the United States missile defense network, saying it does not do enough to protect Americans from attack.

The four-year study was released Friday by former Ambassador Henry Cooper, who headed the U.S. missile defense program in the 1990s.

Published by the Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis, the report [entitled Missile Defense, the Space Relationship & the Twenty-First Century] highlights vulnerabilities in the nation's defenses and the increasing threat posed by other nations.

During a conference in the southeastern U.S. state of South Carolina, Cooper criticized current U.S. defense efforts for concentrating mainly on long-range ballistic missiles. He said the greater threat comes from shorter-ranged missiles that can be sold to third parties and fired from ships off the American coastline.

He also argues that defense officials should shift the missile defense focus away from land-based systems to sea- and space-based systems.

The current U.S. missile defense system is partly activated and has about a 50 per cent success rate in tests. Based in Alaska and California, the system is designed to intercept long-range missiles like the Taepodong-2 recently launched by North Korea.

Officials say shorter range missiles which Pyongyang also launched would be intercepted - if necessary - by regionally-based systems.

Some information for this report provided by AP.