Gates open to seeking more missiles

FORT GREELY, Alaska – Defense Secretary Robert Gates isn’t ruling out spending more on missile defense than what he’s asked for in next year’s budget if North Korea or other nations increase threats against the United States.

Gates said the missile tests by North Korea over the past week appear to have attracted more support on Capitol Hill for missile interceptors.

Gates was visiting the Missile Defense Complex in remote Alaska on Monday. The U.S. plans to store 26 ground-based missile interceptors in silos there.

Four others are at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Gates said he thinks that’s enough to protect the U.S. right now.

He said he’s requested nearly $1 billion in the 2010 fiscal budget to develop and maintain those missile interceptors.

But the Pentagon’s spending plan halts a planned expansion of the missile defense system at Fort Greely. Gates called that “not a forever decision.”

“And if capabilities in one of these rogue states should develop faster or in a more worrisome way than anybody anticipates right now, then I think the way is opened in the future to add to the number of silos and interceptors up here,” he said.

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