- 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.
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.