Donald Trump Calls for U.S. Missile Defense in Space, Says We Will 'Detect and Destroy' Any Threat

President Donald Trump has called for the development of a space-based missile defense program as part of the United States's first comprehensive missile review in nearly a decade, the 2019 Missile Defense Review.

Trump joined a number of his top generals Thursday at the Pentagon to deliver an address in support of his initiative, which sought to install detection systems in outer space as a means to counter new weapons being developed by top military rivals Russia and China, as well as burgeoning missile powers Iran and North Korea.

"Our goal is simple: to ensure that we can detect and destroy any missile launched against the United States anywhere, anytime," Trump said.

"I will accept nothing less for our nation than the most effective cutting edge missile defense systems," he later added.

President Donald Trump discusses the 2019 Missile Defense Review at the Pentagon, on January 17. Trump unveiled U.S. missile defense capabilities Thursday that aim to counter threats from North Korea and Iran while adapting to more sophisticated weapon systems being developed by Russia and China. MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

The 2019 Missile Defense Review, published Thursday, specifically identifies Russia, China, Iran and North Korea as "Current and Emerging Missile Threats to the American Homeland." It outlined a number of new initiatives and strategies summarized in six points delivered by Trump, who Vice President Mike Pence said "knows the American people believe that 'America First' begins with peace through strength."

Trump's own address began with a promise to "prioritize the defense of the American people above all else." He vowed to deploy 20 new ground-based interceptors at Fort Greely, Alaska, bringing the total number to 64. With these systems and additional radars, the president said, "We will shield every city in the United States, and we will never negotiate away our right to do that."

Next, Trump promised to "develop new technology" rather than simply investing in existing systems because "the world is changing and will change much faster." He also said "the U.S. will now adjust its posture" to defend against all kinds of missile strikes, including cruise missiles and hypersonic.

The Republican leader introduced in his fourth point the "space-based missile defense layer." Using this, he argued, "We will monitor and we will terminate" missiles launched by "hostile powers" or those launched by other nations "by mistake." In his final items, Trump said he would "remove bureaucratic obstacles to speed up the acquisition and deployment of these technologies" and "insist on fair burden-sharing with our allies."

An unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile launches during an operational test, at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, on November 6, 2018. President Donald Trump and his top officials are placing sensors in space according to the 2019 Missile Defense Review. Technical Sergeant Jim Araos/U.S. Air Force/Department of Defense

In March, Russian President Vladimir Putin unveiled an arsenal of new weapons, some of which he described as "invincible" and capable of reaching hypersonic speeds too fast for existing or even prospective defense systems. The Russian leader argued at the time that his campaign to modernize Moscow's military might came in response to world powers ignoring Russian interests, arguing, "You will listen to us now."

Russia and China have increasingly come together in the face of perceived U.S. hegemony, arguing that the Pentagon's global dominance threatened their own international interests, which Washington has described as destabilizing. Though the U.S. and North Korea are conducting peace talks, the two have remained wary of one another's missile capabilities and Trump's hardline stance against Iran has only inflamed tensions between the U.S. and the Middle East's largest missile power.

Prior to Trump's talk Thursday, Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said the 2019 Missile Defense Review would act in line with previous Trump administration documents, such as the National Security Strategy, National Defense Strategy and Nuclear Posture Review—all of which mention Russia, China, Iran and North Korea by name—and described the 2019 review as "the latest tile in our broader national security mosaic."

"We are not interested in keeping pace with current threats," Shanahan said. "We want to outpace them."