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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 33, December 1998 - January 1999

US Missile Defence Plans & The ABM Treaty

Department of Defense Announcement

'Cohen announces plan to augment missile defense programs,' US Department of Defense (DoD) News Release No. 018-99, 20 January 1999

"Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen announced today that the Defense Department plans to allocate additional funds to National Missile Defense (NMD) and Theater Missile Defense (TMD) programs to meet the growing ballistic missile threats from rogue States to US forces deployed overseas and potentially to US territory.

The new budget will request additions of $6.6 billion to current NMD funding levels for a total of $10.5 billion for NMD through fiscal year 2005. No decision to deploy a national missile defense system will be made before 2000. In theater missile defense, the new budget will continue flight testing of the Theater High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) program and add money to the Navy Theater Wide program in order to allow accelerated deployment of an upper tier system by 2007.

'The Department of Defense has long worked to ensure that our NMD development program was properly funded. But until now, the Department has budgeted no funds to support a possible deployment of a limited NMD system,' Secretary Cohen said.

'Since we intend to make a critical decision in June 2000 regarding deployment, the budget we will submit in February will increase NMD by $6.6 billion, including the cost associated with NMD deployment over the Future Years Defense Plan. This includes $800 million provided by Congress in the FY99 supplemental appropriations bill and nearly triples, to $10.5 billion, the amount we are budgeting for National Missile Defense,' he said.

Last summer, the Department of Defense embarked upon a ballistic missile defense program review that assessed the evolving missile defense environment. The review addressed both the expanding threats from medium-range ballistic missiles and the emerging threat from long-range missiles.

'We are affirming that there is a growing threat and that it will pose a danger not only to our troops overseas, but also to Americans here at home,' said Cohen. 'Last spring, a commission chaired by former Secretary Donald Rumsfeld provided a sobering analysis of the nature of the threat and of limitations on our ability to predict how rapidly it will change. Then, on 31 August, North Korea launched a Taepo-Dong 1 missile. That missile test demonstrated important aspects of intercontinental missile development, including multiple-stage separation, and unexpectedly included the use of a third stage. The Taepo-Dong 1 test was another strong indicator that the United States will, in fact, face a rogue nation missile threat to our homeland against which we will have to defend the American people.'

A Deployment Readiness Review is scheduled for summer 2000 in order to assess the NMD program's progress and to provide information for a deployment decision.

'Our deployment readiness program has had two key criteria that must be satisfied before we could make a decision to deploy a limited National Missile Defense: there must be a threat to warrant the deployment, and our NMD development must have proceeded sufficiently so that we are technologically ready to deploy,' Cohen said. 'What we are saying today is that we now expect the first criterion will soon be met, and technological readiness will be the primary remaining criterion.'

If deployment requires an amendment to the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, the United States will negotiate with the Russians in good faith. 'While our NMD development program is being conducted consistent with the terms of the ABM Treaty, our deployment may require modifications to the treaty and the administration is working to determine the nature and scope of these modifications,' Cohen said. 'We have already begun environmental site surveys for potential basing sites in both Alaska and North Dakota, and we have briefed Russian officials on these activities,' Cohen said.

Secretary Cohen also announced steps to advance the Theater Missile Defense program, which is designed to protect our troops and allies from short- and medium-range missiles. The Department recognizes the critical importance of both land-based and sea-based upper-tier systems in the overall TMD architecture.

Money will be added to the Navy Theater Wide program to move it from the development to the acquisition phase. The land-based Theater High Altitude Area Defense program will continue flight testing. However, recognizing the development problems associated with THAAD, and the very difficult task inherent in ballistic missile defense technology, both Navy Theater Wide and THAAD will be examined after initial flight testing to determine system progress. Based on this assessment, the Department will be prepared to reallocate upper-tier program resources to focus on the most successful program. To meet the existing and emerging threat, our objective is to field an upper-tier system capability by 2007. This would be an acceleration for either system. Currently, THAAD is scheduled for deployment in 2008 and NTW in 2010.

In addition, the Department will propose to restructure the Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS) program - a cooperative program with our German and Italian allies - to develop the essential technologies for critical maneuver force protection requirements.

'These new initiatives will help to ensure that we will meet existing and rapidly emerging ballistic missile threats as quickly and effectively as possible, and in a manner that is integrated with our overall defense requirements,' Cohen said."

Remarks by Robert Bell

Statement by National Security Council (NSC) staff member Robert Bell, White House transcript, 21 January 1999

"For the last three years, the United States has been committed to the development, by the year 2000, of a limited national missile defense system, that is being designed primarily to counter emerging rogue State missile threats. Now, I say 'for the last three years' because it was in April of 1996 that then-Secretary of Defense Perry made the decision to upgrade our national missile defense research efforts from a technology-demonstration status to what we have called a deployment-readiness status.

Yesterday, Secretary Cohen announced a restructuring of this program that would orient the developmental efforts towards fielding the system in the year 2005, instead of 2003 as previously envisioned, assuming - assuming - a go-ahead deployment decision were to be made in the summer of the year 2000.

I want to emphasize this point: No decision has been taken on whether to proceed with deployment. A decision on whether to deploy a limited national missile defense will not be made, as I said, until the year 2000 or later.

The Secretary also confirmed yesterday that, when the President's next six-year budget for the Pentagon is presented to Congress in a few weeks, it will include funds that would be necessary - should we later decide to deploy this limited national missile defense system. The amount added to the President's budget for fiscal years 1999 through 2005 to cover the contingency that we decide on deployment amounts to nearly $7 billion. But none of the deployment dollars that are being added are in the fiscal year 1999 or fiscal year 2000 budget years.

Again, no decision has been taken on whether to proceed with deployment. A decision on whether to deploy will not be made until the year 2000 or later, at which point we will again assess our evaluation of the threat, review the program in terms of its technology and its maturity and program risk as of that date, assessing flight tests that we hope to have conducted by that date, and further refine our cost estimate.

Now, adding this money, then, does not represent a change in policy. Rather, we are adding this money to protect the deployment option in the event a decision is made in the year 2000 or later to field this system.

I would also emphasize that all issues involving the national missile defense program must, of course, be addressed within the context of the ABM treaty. The ABM treaty remains, in the view of this administration, a cornerstone of strategic stability, and the United States is committed to continued efforts to strengthen the treaty and enhance its viability and effectiveness. Secretary Cohen underscored yesterday that he believes it's in our overall interests to maintain the treaty, and that the treaty is important to maintaining the limitations on offensive missiles that are contained in the START Treaties.

Quoting him: 'To the extent there is no ABM Treaty, then, certainly Russia or other countries would feel free to develop as many offensive weapons as they wanted, which would then set in motion a comparable dynamic to offset that with more missiles here.'

In short, as Presidents Clinton and Yeltsin agreed at the 1997 Helsinki Summit, the ABM Treaty is of fundamental significance to realizing our strategic arms reduction objectives under the START II and START III treaties. Now, in this regard, it has been our longstanding policy to conduct activities related to the development - the development - of this limited system in full compliance with the ABM Treaty, and senior DoD officials have repeatedly and recently testified to Congress that the program is in complete and strict compliance with the Treaty.

Finally, with regard to the option, the possibility of actually fielding this system should that decision be taken, we have said many times before that deployment may or may not require modifications to the Treaty. If deployment required modifications, we would, in good faith, seek agreement on the needed amendments. We've not made a proposal to negotiate ABM amendments as some have reported because, as Secretary Cohen made clear yesterday, we have not yet made determinations as to what specific amendments might be required to accommodate the various options that are being considered in the Pentagon with respect to a final architecture for this defensive system."

© 1998 The Acronym Institute.

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