Thanks to recent developments in North Korea’s long range ballistic missile programs, a great deal of attention has been paid to America’s missile defense infrastructure. From the Aegis Missile Defense System powered by America’s Naval presence in the region, to THAAD launchers in both South Korea and Kodiak, Alaska, all the way to America’s sometimes questionable mainland Ground-based Midcourse Defense system, the United States, and its media, have devoted a great deal of attention to ensuring these platforms not only function, but serve as a form of deterrent. The message the U.S. sends with each successful missile intercept is simple: if you attempt to fire an ICBM at the United States, it won’t ever reach its target.
That, in and of itself, may well serve as a formidable deterrent to Kim Jong-un, who has issued repeated threats of pre-emptive nuclear strikes on American and allied targets, but our ability to neuter Kim’s nuclear pursuits are only a half of a larger deterrent strategy. The other half harkens back to the days of mutually assured destruction: America’s own nuclear arsenal.
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