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Charlie Crist says missile defense might be necessary to stop North Korea missiles

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

With diplomacy a seemingly lost cause for addressing North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, Charlie Crist says it’s time to put our trust in the military to protect the country from a possible attack from Kim Jong Un‘s regime.

“The time for talk is over,” U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley said Sunday in dismissing a question about whether America should go back to the United Nations and ramp up sanctions on the North Korean government after they tested a long-range missile last week that could potentially hit American cities beyond the West Coast.

The test has been called more advanced than the intercontinental ballistic missile launched July 4 and marks a significant step forward from a country once thought incapable of putting forward a serious ICBM program.

With China not wanting to use its influence to control the North Korean government, U.S. options seem limited. But Crist says he’d been reading a lot about the U.S. missile defense systems and thinks it may need to come down to that.

“Because of technology, we’ve become much better at being able to take care of missiles like that, if need be in the air before they get to the ground,” Crist said Monday.

Ronald Reagan called for the development of a missile-defense system in a 1983 speech when he discussed what was known as the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), but was mocked as a “Star Wars ” defense in the media. Reagan’s speech laid out a vision for long-term investment in technological development, possibly involving everything from satellites to lasers.

SDI ultimately morphed into what is now known as the Missile Defense Agency, which asked for proposals last month to build a high-altitude long-endurance unmanned aircraft capable of flying higher than 63,000 feet and carrying a laser to shoot down ballistic missiles as they arc upward.

The U.S. military announced over the weekend that it had tested the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system in Alaska by launching a ballistic missile over the Pacific Ocean.

“In addition to successfully intercepting the target, the data collected will allow the Missile Defense Agency to enhance the THAAD weapon system,” U.S. Missile Defense Agency director Lt. Gen. Sam Greaves told CNNMilitary officials told CNN this was the 15th such test for the THAAD weapon system.

“They called it ‘Star Wars,'” Crist said of the missile defense developed in the 1980s. “Thank God they developed that thing, because if we have a rogue nation like North Korea get more serious about this, God forbid, it’s good to have a good defense system in place so that we can protect our people.”

The MDA has said that they hope to have their technology ready by 2023.

Crist leaves Tuesday for an eight-day trip congressional visit to Israel, where he last visited as Florida’s governor in 2007.

“Things change, as we all know, and I’m sure that things have changed significantly, so I’m anxious to see it up close and get educated again by people in the government in Israel,” Crist said.

Sponsoring the trip is the American Israel Education Foundation, a charitable organization affiliated with AIPAC.

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at [email protected]

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