Irreconcilable Differences: There Can Be No Effective Missile Defenses Within The A.B.M. Treaty

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(Washington, D.C.): The Bush-Cheney Administration is expected shortly to complete its deliberations about how to proceed with the missile defense program President Bush has repeatedly promised to deploy “at the earliest possible time.” One decision should already be clear: The 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty is incompatible with the deployment of effective anti-missile defenses. This is not an accident; the Treaty was supposed to prohibit territorial defenses against long-range ballistic missile attack and that is precisely what it does.

There are those, however, who would have us believe that further negotiations leading to amendments to the ABM Treaty would make it possible to field competent anti-missile protection for the United States without having to eliminate what the Clinton-Gore Administration insisted was the “cornerstone of strategic stability.” As Sven Kraemer — one of the Nation’s preeminent security policy practitioners and a founding member of the CSP National Security Advisory Council — wrote last week in a two-part series in the Washington Times — renegotiating this accord would be a “fool’s quest with deadly consequences.” The reality is that the ABM Treaty simply cannot be “fixed” and attempts to try to do so will inevitably have the effect of encumbering, delaying and dumbing-down whatever missile defense President Bush elects to deploy.

Excerpts of:

“ABM Treaty modification trap” and “New U.S. missile defense strategy”

by Sven Kraemer

The Washington Times, 8 & 9 April 2001

Current proposals for Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty “modification talks” promoted by Russia, China, and Treaty diehards in the Congress, are a fools quest with deadly consequences.

They flow from the Clinton administration myth that the 1972 Treaty, which is based on the Cold War Concept of Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD) and bans national ballistic missile defenses, is somehow the “cornerstone of strategic stability” and a “viable” foundation of arms control. This myth and pressure for such talks are now the chief obstacles to effective U.S. missile defenses.
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During the Cold War, the signing of the Nixon-Brezhnev ABM Treaty in 1972 was hailed as assuring missile peace in our time but was quickly followed by an unprecedented Soviet arms buildup (28 strategic programs), treaty violations (SALT, ABM, “Detente” Principles), and aggressive actions in Central America, Africa, Afghanistan and Eastern Europe.

Only after Ronald Reagan proposed the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) in 1983 did the Soviet Union begin major reforms and accept his “zero option” proposal for Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) and his 50 percent cut proposal for the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START). Russian and U.S. experts alike agree that SDI was decisive in stimulating reforms and arms reductions, ending the Cold War peacefully, and bringing Americans the trillion-dollar peace dividend which became the basis of our post-Cold War economic boom.

In the post-Cold War period, threats to the American homeland accelerated dramatically after President Clinton gutted U.S. national missile defense programs and canceled both President Bushs Global Protection System scheduled for deployment by 1996 and the U.S.-Russia talks begun in 1992 on moving from the MAD-based ABM Treaty to defense-based deterrence. Since then, U.S. vulnerability has proved an incentive for proliferation and arms buildups by hostile rogue nations and those who support them, notably Russia and China.
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The Bush administration should finally and fully reject the Clinton myth that the ABM treaty is the “cornerstone of strategic stability” and a “viable” foundation for arms control. After rejecting the related treaty “modification” trap as a quagmire and fools quest that merely invites dispute, veto and delay, a new missile defense policy should focus on the following eight elements:

(1) Incremental Defense: Rather than locking into artificial two-tier theater/national defense systems, the administration should assure incremental evolutionary ballistic missile defense capabilities against the continuum of theater and strategic threats (including offshore sea-based threats) directed against our homeland and our forces and allies overseas.

(2) Sea-based Systems: The administration should conduct systematic early reviews focused on the most rapid possible deployment of the technologically most promising concepts for mobile anti-missile interceptor, radar and sensor systems, especially sea-based systems…

(3) Emergency Planning: The administration should establish highest-level national priority for the most promising national anti-missile programs, to include an emergency program for early deployment of boost-phase sea-based systems…

(4) Allies: The administration should work with our democratic allies to describe emerging threats, explain fatal ABM Treaty flaws and Treaty “modification” follies, and outline cost-effective mobile forward deployment options, particularly promising sea-based systems, in whose benefits our allies could share and in which they might participate.

(5) Rogues: The administration needs a strategy, maximally shared by our allies, to get tough with hostile states and terrorist organizations and those who support them, who are seeking to acquire advanced missiles and weapons of mass destruction.

(6) Russia and China: While leading a global charge against effective U.S. and allied missile defenses, Russia and China are the worlds key proliferators and are both investing heavily in unwarranted new offensive strategic warfare systems. With them, the administration should explain but not negotiate our counterproliferation and missile defense policies…

(7) Ending the Myth: It is time to end the ABM Treaty myth. We can declare the treaty as expired with the Soviet Union in 1991 and/or can review dangerous global proliferation developments, including Russias and Chinas roles, and cite the Treatys Article 15, Section 2, which states that: “Each party shall, in exercising its national sovereignty, have the right to withdraw from this treaty if it decides that extraordinary events related to the subject matter of this treaty have jeopardized its supreme interests. It shall give notice of its decision to the other party six months prior to withdrawal.”

(8) The Path Ahead: In explicitly putting the ABM Treaty aside, President Bush and his team should choose the technologically most advanced options available for accelerated deployment of effective anti-missile defenses focused especially on sea-based systems with boost-phase capabilities, and we should organize for this mission as an urgent, highest-level national priority.

Center for Security Policy

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