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US May Rethink Cuts in Anti-Missile Funds: Gates

This article was originally published on spacewar.com

US Defense Secretary Robert Gates has not ruled out pumping more funds into the nation's anti-missile defense budget if North Korea threatens the United States.

"If there were a launch from a rogue state such as North Korea, I have good confidence that we would be able to deal with it," Gates said Monday during a stopover in Alaska on his way home from a trip to Asia.

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Gates was visiting Fort Greely which houses parts of the US anti-missile defense shield -- a land-based system with about 20 interceptors -- and said of Pyongyang that its "behavior has certainly alarmed people."

In the past Gates proposed slicing a billion dollars off the anti-missile system budget and freezing the development of interceptors at 30, instead of the 44 originally planned. But he indicated he might re-examine his proposal.

"My recommendation to the president was for the fiscal year 2010 budget, it's not a forever decision," the defense secretary said.

"And if capabilities in one of these rogue states should develop faster, or on 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."

There are fears North Korea is preparing to launch a long-range missile, after defying global condemnation of its second nuclear test last week by firing a series of short-range missiles.