U.S. May Trade Nukes For Missle Defense

greenspun.com : LUSENET : TB2K spinoff uncensored : One Thread

This is from VNY.Com

[Fair Use: For Educational/Research Purposes Only]

U.S. may trade nukes for missile defense

LONDON, March 8 (UPI) -- Reports from a London-based think-tank say the Clinton administration may offer to slash America's nuclear arsenal and put anti-missile weapons on Russian soil if Moscow lifts a roadblock to the United States' proposed National Missile Defense system.

The twin International Institute for Strategic Studies reports, written by four American scholars and released Wednesday, state that the $12.7 billion NMD plan to protect America from rogue states' missiles is almost certain to be approved by President Clinton this summer or his successor next year.

"Critics of missile defense have lost the debate," say authors of the report "Deploying NMD: Not Whether But How." It concludes, "By 2010 the United States will operate at least one ground-based NMD site capable of providing the country with some protection against a small-scale missile attack."

NMD is a vastly scaled-down and, the Pentagon said, technically feasible version of the "Star Wars" defense system proposed by the Reagan administration in the 1980s. A key NMD missile test succeeded in October, although a test in January missed its mark.

The plan calls for deploying 20 anti-missile "hit-to-kill interceptors" in Alaska by 2005 and 100 by 2010 to protect the United States from nuclear attacks from countries such as North Korea, Iran and Iraq. Long-term plans call for 250 interceptors and a global network of radar stations that can spot warheads heading for America.

Moscow's roadblock to NMD is its refusal to back a Washington proposal to amend the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty which, in its current form, would forbid the Pentagon's defense plan.

NMD supporters say the ABM Treaty is an outdated product of the Cold War, although the pact can't change without approval from the U.S. Senate as well as Moscow. Some NMD backers want the United States to simply ignore the treaty.

At the same time the Pentagon, Clinton and a majority in Congress justify NMD in light of North Korea's 1998 test of the Taepo-dong, three-stage missile and continuing security threats in the Middle East, particularly fears of chemical or biological attacks on the United States using unsophisticated yet intercontinental ballistic missiles.

The institute report "Amending the ABM Treaty" says the United States could sweeten its amendment proposal by offering Moscow tradeoffs for their support, such as an offer to reduce America's nuclear stockpile and consider Russia's needs in the NMD scheme. The "Deploying" report says the United States might offer Russia real-time missile-warning data.

U.S. and Russian arms negotiators are in private, informal discussions on the future of the ABM pact in Geneva. The talks began late last year and could move to the formal level soon.

Negotiators also are laying groundwork for the next phase of U.S.-Russian talks on reducing nuclear arsenals. The so-called START III talks, short for Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, are to begin as soon as the Russian Duma approves START II, a move expected soon. START II would cut the U.S. and Russian nuclear forces to 2,000 to 2,500 arms on each side.

The "Amending" report says Moscow refuses to embrace the ABM amendment plan because U.S.-Russian relations were "soured" by last year's NATO expansion, the bombing of Serbia and Western opposition to the conflict in Chechnya.

"Russian leaders fear that the envisioned missile defenses are part of a conscious U.S. strategy to maintain global strategic superiority," the report says. "They disagree with U.S. threat assessments, doubting that developing countries can deploy long-range missiles before 2010."

However, the report says due to Russia's economic woes Moscow probably would favor a reduction in nuclear forces to less than 2,000 weapons -- perhaps as low as 1,000 -- on each side.

The "Amending" report says the United States might agree to cuts to a level between 1,500 to 2,000 nuclear arms as part of a future START III agreement. The "Deploying" report says the United States should be satisfied with an agreement reducing forces to 1,000 nuclear weapons per country.

Additionally, the "Amending" report says, if Russia backs an ABM amendment it may be able to win U.S. support for road- and rail-mobile nuclear missiles as part of START III. Russia favors these moveable missiles because they reduce defense costs.

Another possible U.S. offer involves placing NMD interceptors and radar in Asia. Under one scenario, the report says so-called "boost-phase interceptors" -- which could blast a long-range, enemy missile just minutes after launch -- could be located in Russia, Turkmenistan or Turkey, or on ships in the Russian waters of the Caspian Sea. Such a plan would require Moscow's cooperation, which the report says is feasible because the interceptors would not threaten Russia's more advanced missiles.

"Amending the ABM Treaty to allow such systems may prove easier than for the Clinton administration's (other) options," the "Amending" report says. "Moscow may not protest (boost-phase interceptors) because these systems pose little threat to Russian strategic nuclear forces."

The "Deploying" report notes that current nuclear cooperation between Moscow and Washington is good and will likely improve.

The reports note political factors are complicating the U.S. and Russian positions toward their respective nuclear futures. Russian presidential elections this month and the U.S. equivalent in November are forcing military planners in Moscow and Washington to plot out various scenarios.

But the "Deploying" authors note all leading U.S. presidential contenders back NMD. Meanwhile Russia's position is compromised by a weak economy and the fact that it needs U.S. aid to decommission nuclear warheads to meet START targets.

The next phase of the NMD project is expected in June, when the Pentagon reviews the system and makes recommendations. Defense contractors such as Boeing and TRW are pushing for the project, which could cost the government at least $12.7 billion by 2011 and $16 billion over 20 years.

The "Deploying NMD" report was written by Ivo H. Daalder and James M. Lindsay, senior fellows at the Brookings Institution, and James M. Goldgeier, a political scientist at George Washington University.

The "Amending" report's author is Dean A. Wilkening of the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University.

The reports appear in the International Institute for Strategic Studies' journal "Survival."


-- Zdude (zdude777@hotmail.com), March 09, 2000


Selfish doesn't bring any good, NMD only causes race in nuclear weapon devolepment. Use diplomatic way to solve problem. We only have one earth to stay

-- Sir Lord Mark Lew Griousforuk (mujahid_soa@hotmail.com), March 19, 2002.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ