WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump was set to release the United States’ new, long-delayed policy on missile-defense capabilities, providing indications whether the administration’s approach toward Russia and China has changed significantly.
Trump was scheduled to formally unveil the document -- known as the Missile Defense Review -- at a ceremony at the Pentagon on January 17.
Some preliminary details of the new policy have leaked out to U.S. media, which have reported that the Trump administration was considering possibly adding a layer of satellites in space to detect and track missile launches.
The administration’s approach is expected to include more efforts to stop missiles either before they are launched or just after launch, when their booster engines are still burning.
For years, U.S. administrations have focused missile defense policy on defending against regional actors like Iran or North Korea, and tried to convince Moscow and Beijing that missile-defense systems were not aimed at their arsenals.
That was reflected in Trump's National Security Strategy, a broader policy document released in late 2017.
“The United States is deploying a layered missile-defense system focused on North Korea and Iran to defend our homeland against missile attacks," the document said. "This system will include the ability to defeat missile threats prior to launch. Enhanced missile defense is not intended to undermine strategic stability or disrupt longstanding strategic relationships with Russia or China.”
However, any expansion of U.S. missile defenses is likely to upset Moscow, which has long opposed even the most rudimentary U.S. defenses, arguing that they are destabilizing.
In recent months, President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly boasted about new Russian weaponry, including hypersonic missiles, that would evade any missile defense.
China, meanwhile, has worried that longer-range U.S. missile defenses in Asia could undermine Chinese security.
The Missile Defense Review is a policy document mandated by Congress. It was supposed to have been released last year, but was postponed.