Why ABM. Policy Issues in the Missile Defense Controversy

Proposed Missile Defenses and the ABM Treaty
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A missile could be tracked, but there was nothing they could do to stop it from reaching its target. After his election in , President Reagan demonstrated a continued interest in anti-ballistic missile technology from the early stages of his administration. An anti-ballistic missile system—one which would give the United States complete protection from the Soviet Union—was the natural next step.

Anatoly Dobrynin an advance copy of the speech announcing SDI. In an interview only a few days after the announcement, Reagan insisted that SDI was not part of a new arms race but instead a path to ridding the world of nuclear weapons altogether. The announcement of SDI shocked officials around the globe. To many, it was as unexpected as it was provocative.

Decades before, the two superpowers had successfully developed intercontinental ballistic missiles ICBMs as well as effective second strike capabilities such as nuclear submarines. These weapons would be very difficult to destroy, even in a preemptive nuclear strike, and thus the Americans and the Soviets reached a certain equilibrium. Neither country could attack the other without the strong probability that both sides would be annihilated. What about stealth bombers? What about the ABM Treaty? What about our allies and the strategic doctrine on which we and they depend?

Another common criticism of SDI was that it was simply not a feasible project. There's no statesmanship in science fiction. Scientists also expressed their doubts about SDI. No more, no less. And the answer, to the best of my judgment, is yes.

The US National Missile Defense Program: Vital Shield or Modern-Day Maginot Line?

It is technically feasible. Throughout most of the Cold War, American nuclear power was the primary deterrent which prevented a Soviet invasion of Western Europe. Despite its many critics, the Strategic Defense Initiative was ultimately very popular with the American public. It appealed both to the desire for security against nuclear war and to the belief in the superiority of American technological achievements. Political scientist Kerry L. Hunter explained this phenomenon:.

It did not matter that Star Wars ignored reality. He showed that the Soviets accepted the idea of banning the development and deployment of mobile ABM systems as well as multiple ABMs and automatic reloading devices for them.

AT&T Archives: A 20-year History of Antiballistic Missile Systems

Nevertheless, he took issue with U. Such had never been done in a serious treaty. Instead, Schukin proposed that an ABM agreement explicitly "exclude the possibility of the defense of the territory of the country. Document 24 U. The delegation observed that the Soviets might have designed their Article I draft to counter U.

The delegation would respond to the Soviets by asking for more specific proposals because "broad undertakings" were no substitute for them. Document 25 Cable, Gerard C. Smith to Henry A. In this "roundup" prepared for the Kissinger back channel, he said that the Soviet proposal was "evidence" that Moscow accepted the "theory of mutual deterrence.

Document 26 U. Garthoff U. Usually, one of the U. Graham Parsons, also attended so that Garthoff could avoid possible charges of unauthorized action. Thus, this group came to be known as the "Group of Four. This meeting shows that Article II, defining ABM systems and components, continued to be a difficult one; during a meeting of the "Group of Four", Grinevsky complained that it was "troublesome" and unnecessary. But he was willing to accept it if the U.

Garthoff responded that a trade was out because both II and V were important. Nevertheless, as he noted when preparing the memo, it appeared that the Soviets "would go through a ritual of trying to get concessions from our side on Article V before [Grinevsky] would be authorized to reach an agreement accepting the basic US position on Article II.

As Aleksander Shchukin observed, if "new technology should make possible components carrying out the same tasks as existing components, but perhaps in a more efficient and less costly manner, why should those be prohibited? Here could be found the seeds of an agreed statement that would supplement the treaty see document 34 below.

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As Spiers explained to Rogers and Irwin, the problem, of course, was how many and what kind of sites as well as limits on ABM radars so that excessive deployments would not allow a signatory to break out and establish an area defense. Document 29 U. Noting that there was no "connective" linking the descriptions of ABM systems and components, Grinevsky suggested adding "namely" or "consisting of" at the end of 1 a , but Garthoff proposed "currently consisting of" in the name of greater precision.

As Garthoff noted, that phraseology had important implications for the question of future system because it would mean that components were not restricted to the familiar ones currently available; while the purposes of ABM systems would not change, their components could.

Grinevsky agreed to take the suggestion to the delegation. The two sides also reached a conceptual breakthrough on Article V. As Spiers hinted in his report to Irwin and as Shchukin had suggested to Brown and Nitze, the Soviets were becoming amenable to a solution to the future systems problem that involved an agreement to consult that would be part of the negotiating record if not part of an agreement as such.

Thus, Grinevsky's response was positive when Garthoff proposed an "agreed minute" that would require consultations and agreement in the SCC prior to any deployment of future systems.

Document 30 U. Also, taking up Garthoff's suggestion for an agreed minute, Grinevsky asked him if he had drafted anything see page 3. Well prepared, Garthoff had an "illustrative draft statement", which the Soviets promised to study. According to this statement, neither side would circumvent an agreement with future ABM components and that if either side developed them they would not deploy "without prior consultations and agreement in the Standing Consultative Commission SCC. Smith announced U. The Soviets, believing that the Kissinger-Dobrynin agreement remained valid, rejected U.

Document 32 U. Grinevsky and Kishilov agreed that Articles I, II, and III would ban future systems or components; they also agreed with Garthoff that ABM systems and components "of some new kind in the future" such as laser interceptors should be in the purview of an agreement. But a statement made by Grinevsky suggested that "other presumably military members of his delegation were unyielding", that is, they did not agree on these points To help his superiors reach a decision on what the Department's position on a final ABM settlement, Spiers reported to John Irwin on five alternatives in descending order of preferability: an ABM ban zero ABM , one-for-one, two-for-two, one-plus-one, and two-or-one.

Because the U. However, it would take complex discussions before the negotiations reached the point before both sides could agree to a two-for-two solution. Document 34 U. Using drafts that each side had already prepared, the group produced an "agreed interpretative statement" that required the signatories to discuss limitations on ABM components other than missiles, launchers, or radars that may be "created in the future. Document 35 U. Thus, the delegation sought Soviet agreement that except for the specific deployments permitted in Article III there would be no other deployments of ABM systems or components.

Moreover, to satisfy Soviet interest in using new technologies as "adjuncts" to an ABM system, the U. Grinevsky quickly observed that he "believed there was complete agreement" on the issues. The Soviets, however, were not entirely happy with formulations in the latest U. Language to this effect would appear in agreed statement G supplementing the treaty Document 36 U.

A phone call from Grinevsky to Garthoff a few hours later settled the issue: the Soviet delegation would likely agree to the latest U. Document 37 U. In the spirit of detente, the Soviet and U. SALT delegations flew to Lapland for cross-country skiing. During the flight back to Helsinki, Garthoff discussed a wide range of substantive negotiating problems with Kishilov and Grinevsky in what was referred to as "the Tundra talks".

In response, the U. In addition, the 2-for-1 concept offered in was still on the table. Kishilov told Garthoff that Washington's quest for two ICBM sites was an important barrier to agreement because of the disparities in numbers of launchers in U. If the United States wanted a second site, it should be Washington, D.

Thus, the NCA option that Kissinger ended up disliking so much remained on the table in modified form. So that the number of protected ICBMs were comparable, the Soviets proposed increasing the radius of the ABM site deployment circle from 75 to kilometers. The ABM facilities for defending NCA would be within a circle of kilometer radius around some point in the capital.

Although the discussants did not reach final agreement on the number of ABM interceptors for each site, the direction of their discussion was that about would be appropriate.

Hank Cooper

This is a pointed warning, especially coming from this source. Sign up for our Electronic Mailing List to get an e-mail alert each time this site is updated. Over time, such confidence and security-building measures may build mutual trust between the US and Russia. Antimissile missiles -- United States. However, FOBS requires the capability to place missile payloads into orbit and then to de-orbit them at precisely the right time to bring them down on the target. This has indeed turned out to be the case-the DPRK, due to a combination of natural factors and mismanagement, is unable to feed its population and has become dependent on outside assistance.

The Soviets also raised the possibility of deferring the second sites for three to five years. Although Smith and others supported the idea of deferral, the Pentagon objected. Nevertheless, in Nixon and Brezhnev signed a protocol to the ABM treaty not merely deferring, but giving up, the right to a second site. Knopf, , p.

Key first-person accounts have been provided by George P. Robert C. Raymond L. Theodore A. Donald H.

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Rumsfeld, Dr. Barry M. Blechman, General Lee Buder, Dr. Richard L.

The Politics of ABM

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