Missile Defense

     
The threat of long-range missiles reaching American soil is escalating into the most dangerous security threat facing this nation. First and foremost, this threat comes from long-range missiles already possessed by Russia and China. It involves both the potential for accidental or unauthorized launches as well as the possibility of their intentional use. Weapons of mass destruction (including nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons) and ballistic missile delivery systems are possibly being developed or possessed by some 20 Third World nations. Iran, Iraq and North Korea are included in this list of nations stockpiling such weapons.

Already deployed on ballistic missiles, China may have more than 300 nuclear warheads. The Chinese test fired a 5,000 mile range DF-31 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on August 2, 1999. As early as 2002, this missile could be ready for deployment. China plans to convert the DF-31 into the Julang 2, a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM). An ICBM with a range of 7,500 miles called the DF-41 which could be ready for deployment by 2003-2005 is also being developed by China.

In fact, in a report released in September 1999, the National Intelligence Council concluded:

"We project that during the next 15 years, the United States most likely will face ICBM threats from Russia, China and North Korea probably from Iran and possibly from Iraq."

Currently, millions of Americans would die and millions more would be wounded within minutes if Russia or China launched even a small portion of their missile arsenals at the United States.

To meet this clear and growing threat, the enactment of the National Missile Defense Act of 1999 was a first step in adapting the U.S. military's priorities. Unfortunately, President Clinton deferred a decision to his successor after a year of high profile anxiety about whether to comply with last year's congressional directive to deploy a national missile defense (NMD) as soon as technologically feasible.

The American Voice Institute of Public Policy favors the upgrading of existing Aegis equipped cruiser's (Navy ships) to enable them to counter ballistic missiles. At a cost of approximately $3 billion, 22 of these Aegis equipped cruisers could be upgraded. The deployment of the Space-Based Infrared System (SBIRS) sensor satellite constellation currently under development would augment the system. As early as 2004 - with several ground-based intercepter sites now under development, these deployments could be undertaken concurrently.

Furthermore, the American Voice Institute of Public Policy supports later deployment of a combination of space-based interceptors (a program cancelled by the Clinton Administration) and space-based lasers, (a program hobbled by Administration's policy). Both affordable and achievable this plan would create effective tools for deploying global missile defense.

     
Back to the Issues Table of Contents