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National Missile Defense (NMD) is once again a growing concern in America.

There have been many new developments since the post-Cold War elimination of

nuclear warfare. This diminishing of arms however, is a very fine line. The

United States cannot afford to have less capability then the rest of the world,

but it does want to encourage unilateral non-proliferation of nuclear arms. In

addition, there is a new awareness of ?rogue? nations that are completely

unpredictable. Since the post-Cold War the United States has been able to rely

on the major nations and more or less predict if they are a threatening

adversary or not. In any case, this doubt has caused the new investigation of a

possible deployment of a National Missile Defense. This movement is a huge

strategic, technical, and political decision. The consequences of such a

decision will indeed effect the next generations. In the recent decades many

treaties have come to rise, all of which have played an important part in the

growing concern of nuclear arms and the defense of American soil.


The history of ballistic missile defense is much involved and began shortly

after World War II. In the 1950?s the Soviet Union was able to deploy

submarine-based missiles capable of hitting the United States. In the 1960?s

this same arsenal appeared and expanded rapidly to land based systems. These

moves by the Soviet Union spurred a huge need for ballistic missile defense

programs in the U.S. In 1972 President Nixon and General Secretary Brezhnev

signed the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty. This forbids a nationwide

missile defense between the United States and Russia. The treaty called for each

country to build two sites that could attempt to protect limited areas. In 1974,

it was amended allowing for:

? Each may only have on missile defense deployment site with that site

prohibited from providing a nationwide missile defense system or becoming the

basis for developing one

? At the allowed site, no more than 100 launchers/missiles may be deployed

and guidance radars must be within a circle with a diameter of 150 kilometers

? New early warning radars may only be deployed on the periphery of national

territory and oriented outward

? Non-nationwide missile defense systems may not be given nationwide

capability or tested in a nationwide mode

? The transfer of missile defense components to and deployment in foreign

countries is prohibited

? Development, testing, or deployment of sea-based, air-based, mobile

land-based, or space-based missile defense systems and their components is


During the Cold War, this treaty proved effective because both nations

understood that a building of missile defense encourages offensive force. As

long as the capability of defending oneself against nuclear attack was

preserved, each would be deterred from attacking the other. Limited national

defense programs such as President Johnson?s ?Sentinel? system followed

the previous Presidential systems of the ?Nike X? and ?Nike Zeus?

programs. All of these were redesigned by Nixon?s ?Safeguard? initiative.

On October 1, 1975, the Safeguard System using interceptors with nuclear warhead

tips were deployed. However in January of the following year, the House of

Representatives and the Senate voted to close it down because the nuclear-tipped

interceptors would blind Safeguard?s own radar systems for navigation. These

systems repeatedly failed to develop a missile defense that could cope with

long-range missile attacks. The security of the American people was at stake.

Because each was lacking a capable defense, a race started in the build-up of

tens of thousands of nuclear warheads.

The United States and Russia maintained large nuclear arsenals of strategic

and tactical nuclear weapons. In the late 1970?s the Intermediate-Range

Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty arose between the United States and Russia. For over

ten years there was debate over the specifics of what the treaty was to include.

Each nation was reluctant to give up their new technologies that they had given

so much time and money in developing. However after years of confusion and

frustration, President Reagan and General Secretary Gorbachev signed the treaty

at a summit meeting in Washington on December 8, 1987. At the time of its

signature, the Treaty?s verification regime was the most detailed and

stringent in the history of nuclear arms control, designed both to eliminate all

declared INF systems entirely within three years of the Treaty?s entry into

force and to ensure compliance with the total ban of possession and use of these

missiles. This included the required destruction of the Parties?

ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of between 500 and

5,500 kilometers, their launchers and associated support structures and support

equipment. The Treaty entered into force upon the exchange of instruments of

ratification in Moscow on June 1, 1988. On December 25, 1991, the Soviet Union

was disbanded and therefore the treaty needed to be reaffirmed. The United

States sought to secure continuation of full implementation of the INF Treaty

regime and to multilateralize the INF Treaty with twelve former Soviet

republics. Of the twelve, six including Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia,

Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan have INF facilities and are participants

of the Treaty. Of important mention is the inspection process by which these

countries adhere. All members of the INF Treaty have agreed to on-site

inspections, short-notice inspections of declared and formerly declared

facilities, and elimination inspections to confirm elimination of INF systems in

accordance with agreed procedures.

Although the United States? and the former Soviet Union?s arsenals have

declined substantially from their Cold War peaks, both still remain at levels

far in excess of any reasonable current military requirement. The United States

is helping Russian military safely dismantle much of its nuclear arsenal. From a

peak of nearly 70,000 nuclear warheads in the late 1980?s the total number of

U.S. and Russian warheads has declined to about 30,500 today. The Strategic Arms

Reduction Treaty (START) was drafted in 1991 and entered into force in 1994;

this treaty reduced strategic nuclear arsenals including land-based long-range

missiles, submarine-launched ballistic missiles, heavy bombers, warheads for

strategic land and sea-based missiles, and heavy bombers built up during the

Cold War. The START process has substantially reduced the Russian nuclear threat

to the United States. Because of START I, the United States and Russia are each

dismantling approximately 2,000 nuclear warheads every year. START II was then

proposed and signed in 1993 and entered into US force in 1997. Russia ratified

it this past year. It cut arsenals to 3,500 or fewer deployed strategic weapons

on each side. At the same time the United States and Russia are discussing a

START III, which could lead to even further cuts. In that treaty, Russia and the

United States may agree that warheads cut will be accompanied by the verified

dismantlement of the decommissioned weapons and the transfer of their fissile

material to monitored storage to prevent reuse in other weapons. After START

III, China, the United Kingdom, and France, as well as India, Pakistan and

Israel, may also be brought into the nuclear arms control process. Far more

missiles have been destroyed through diplomacy in recent years than any missile

defense system could ever hope to intercept.

Another political movement to curb nuclear warfare is the Missile Technology

Control Regime (MTCR). This is a voluntary agreement that seeks to stop the

transfer of the delivery systems of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). These

systems include missiles, unmanned air vehicles, and related technology capable

of carrying a 500-kilogram payload a distance of at least 300 kilometers.

Currently 32 countries participate in the MTCR including Ukraine, Russia,

Argentina, Brazil, South Africa, China and Japan.

Current Situation

Currently the United States does not seem to have a firm assessment of where

it want to take its National Missile Defense program. There are huge factors to

weigh in the decision. Looking back for the Cold War days, the United States

knows that any National Missile Defense program deployed could result in a

Chinese Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) build-up, a nuclear arms race

in South Asia, and pressure on countries like Japan and South Korea to build

their own nuclear weapons. Many of the treaties and understandings that have

kept the nuclear peace for forty-five years may be lost forever. Thus, this

decision is of the utmost importance.

On September 1st of this year President Clinton declined the United States?

move toward a deployment of the proposed ?limited? national missile defense.

The Clinton Administration had previously proposed to have a working system by

late 2005. His decision was based on four main criteria: the readiness of

technology, the impact of deployment on arms control and relations with Russia,

the cost of the system, and the threat.

The readiness of technology played a huge role in President Clinton?s

decision. Effective missile defense can be compared with hitting a bullet with a

bullet. Warheads of long-range missiles travel at speeds of up to 15000mph. The

US proposal calls for a ?kinetic kill? in which the interceptor must hit the

warhead. In February 1998 the Pentagon appointed a panel to review the national

missile defense programs. This panel found ?a rush to failure? approach was

being undertaken. In 1999 that same panel was asked to reassess the program.

Once again the program found the Pentagon?s approach to be extremely risky

stating, ?the DRR should be regarded more as feasibility decision with some

long-term deployment actions rather than a readiness decision.? In February

2000 the Pentagon?s Director of Operational Testing and Evaluation express

similar concerns. Namely that ?unrealistic pressure? is being placed on this

defense system because it is ?schedule driven? rather than event driven. It

called for more time and a more thorough analysis.

So the question arises, ?What makes a national missile defense system

technically ready?? The Clinton Administration said that it must:

? The involved technology must be mature; it must work on a basic level

? It must operate effectively in the real world and work against several

missile equipped with readily-available countermeasures

? It must be fully reliable and work consistently

The Pentagon plans to conduct 19 intercept tests prior to completing

deployment of the national missile defense in 2005. However, only three were

conducted prior to Clinton?s decision. The first on October 2, 1999, test only

the exoatmospheric kill vehicle. This is the part that actually hits the

incoming warhead. No ground-based radars, satellite-based infrared sensors, and

communications systems were integrated into the test. Instead, a global

positioning transmitter was attached to the booster to pinpoint it own location.

In addition a balloon decoy was launched with the mock warhead. The test results

conclude that the interceptor found the balloon from space and thus was able to

find the mock warhead. However, the balloon was much larger than the warhead and

many testers doubt that the interceptor would have been able to find the warhead

had the balloon decoy not be launched as well.

The second test on January 18, 2000 provided terrible results. The kill

vehicle failed to hit the mock warhead. In this test, the ground-based radars

were used, along with the battle management system. According to the Pentagon, a

malfunction in the infrared sensors caused the miss. The third test, was yet

another failure. The diagram below explains what should have occurred versus

what actually occurred.

1) A modified Minuteman II intercontinental ballistic missile carrying a mock

warhead and a decoy was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., around

9:15 p.m. Pacific Time.

2) Space-based and ground-based radar attempt to detect, identify and track

the simulated threat.

3) Some 20 minutes later, the intercepting "kill vehicle" was

launched on a missile from Kwajelein Atoll, about 4,300 miles away in the

southern Pacific Ocean. The kill vehicle was supposed to separate from the

missile, but failed to do so.

4) Sensors on the kill vehicle were to have guided it toward the target

warhead, rather than the decoy. The two objects were supposed to collide at

12,000 miles per hour, 140 miles above the Pacific Ocean.

This apparent technological insufficiency helped lead Clinton to the decision

to decline the implementation of the national missile defense.

The second criterion that was evaluated was the impact of development of arms

control. Since the Cold War, many treaties have been signed and understandings

have been made. With the US possibly developing a national missile defense, the

stable balance that has been yearned for will again be interrupted. To build

such a defense, the United States must get either Russian agreement to modify

the ABM Treaty, or withdraw from it. Currently, the United States wants to

preserve the Treaty because the US Administration feels it is the ?cornerstone

of strategic stability.?

Yet the initial phase of the Clinton?s Administration?s propose national

missile defense would violate the ABM Treaty in three ways:

1) The system attempts to protect the entire territory of either country

2) It will deploy interceptors in Alaska besides the one in North Dakota

3) Upgrading and deployment of radar systems around the globe to strengthen

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