Disarmament DiplomacyIssue No. 20, November 1997
US Ballistic Missile Defence DebateOn 28 October, US Defense Secretary William Cohen wrote to the Chair of the House National Security Committee, Curt Weldon (Republican - Pennsylvania), refuting the need for additional expenditure on the US programme to develop weapons to provide defense against theatre-range ballistic missiles. According to Cohen:
"I must emphasize that given the constrained budget situation, and the reality that any dedicated resources in this area will likely result in reductions to other vital defense programmes, I do not encourage additional resources for TMD (Theater Missile Defense) efforts at this time." Weldon had argued that additional resources were necessary to meet the threat posed by Iran's development of ballistic missiles - see Documents and Sources for Congressional testimony on this issue from Lt. Gen. Lester Lyles, Director of the Defense Department's Ballistic Missile Defense Organization (BMDO). On 28 October, Weldon asked Congress to approve nearly $500 million extra funding. Addressing a press conference, he insisted: "This is not some threat that is 10 to 15 years away. It is here, and we have to deal with it."
Reports: Weldon calls for missile defense funding, States News Service, 28 October; Lyles says test successes must precede extra TMD funds, Defense Daily, 7 November.
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