According to Japan news agency, Japan successfully intercepted a ballistic missile in its first test launch of the SM-3 missile interceptor system from a warship in waters off Hawaii, reports said Tuesday. The Japanese destroyer Kongo launched a missile from waters off Kauai Island and successfully intercepted the mock target, another missile, fired from onshore on Monday. Now question: how to intercept a ballistic missile with a SM-3 when the ballistic missile flies several hundreds or thousands of kilometers above our heads...?
"Their introduction of missile defence systems, as far as I can tell, doesn't really have anything to do with defending Japan against missiles," said after North Korean missiles tests Robert Karniol, Asia-Pacific editor of Jane's Defence Weekly, adding he was skeptical of the systems' effectiveness. Involvement in missile defence is a political move enabling Tokyo to maintain its close security relationship with the United States and militarily useful in that it helps the two countries integrate their command and control systems, Karniol said. But Masatsugu Naya, a security expert at Hitotsubashi University, said missile defence could have a psychological effect even if it could not be relied upon to intercept all incoming missiles. "The question is whether they can shoot down a large enough percentage to make a launching country reconsider its plans," he said. "From that point of view it is effective." (Quotes from Reuters, June 23rd 2006 & The China Daily)
The cartoon is explicit enough: How to face the threats? Interesting debate a while ago, in Foreign Affairs: Quotes: "The Bush administration claims national missile defense can protect the United States from long-range missiles fired by rogue states. But that threat is trivial, and Washington's unilateralist approach to missile defense will only anger China and Russia while alienating U.S. allies." Click the title to access the Foreign Affairs article by John Newhouse. July August 2001 release.
Maybe a better solution is improving treaties and involve all parties on the checkers?