, 2000

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JUNE 29, 1999  3:06 PM
Council for a Livable World
Luke Warren of the Council for a Livable World, 202-546-0795, ext. 127
Star Wars: Conservative 'Go Slow' Approach Urged; Missile Defense Bill Sent To The President
WASHINGTON - June 29 - In a public ceremony intended to promote its interpretation of the legislation, the Republican Congressional leadership today formally sent to President Clinton a new law that would make the development of a national missile defense when technologically possible the policy of the United States. President Clinton has indicated that he will sign the bill, but he has publicly differed with the Republican view of its significance.

"This politically-motivated law does not repeal the law of physics," said John Isaacs, president of the Council For A Livable World. "Despite the investment of over $120 billion in research and development, the plain fact is that missile defense systems have failed 14 out of 17 tests. We need to take a conservative, go-slow approach until the science catches up with our imaginations."

Isaacs added: "Despite its flaws, President Clinton should use this new law to establish commonsense thresholds to be met before a missile defense deployment decision can be made -- operational effectiveness in real-world situations, cost-effectiveness, and a net reduction in nuclear dangers. We should not risk the security of American families at home or America's soldiers on the battlefield on unproven theories. Before we decide to deploy missile defense systems, we must make sure they will work every time."

The Administration has indicated that it might make a deployment decision in June, 2000. Before a deployment decision can be made, national missile defense systems should:

-- Have a clearly-defined, achievable mission that reflects a realistic, adaptive missile threat;

-- Be shown to be operationally effective against realistic threats by rigorous testing against the full range of targets and countermeasures that could be launched by a country capable of fielding a long-range missile;

-- Be affordable;

-- Be pursued in a balanced fashion along with other measures to reduce nuclear threats; and

-- Have an overall impact that will reduce nuclear dangers, taking into account its potential impact on arms reductions and nuclear non-proliferation.

"Even a fully-successful, fully-deployed missile defense system does nothing to protect us from the greatest threats we face -- thousands of aging nuclear weapons in a politically-unstable Russia, and terrorists who are more likely to build a car bomb than an intercontinental ballistic missile," Isaacs concluded.


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