|How US Missile Defense Violates ABM|
Even before Saturday's at-last successful test of their Missile Defense System's "kill vehicle," US defense officials and the Bush administration conceded that further development of the system would eventually violate terms of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM).
As Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz stated last week, "We have never made a secret of the fact that the president fully intends to deploy a defense of the United States and ... it should be no secret to anyone that Article One of the treaty explicitly prohibits such a defense of national territory."
The ABM treaty is intended to prevent either the US or Russia (then the Soviet Union) from developing anti-ballistic missile systems capable of completely protecting the nations' land areas from a nuclear attack. This arrangement helped enforced the Cold War peacekeeping concepts of "assured mutual destruction" and "deterrence" thought to dissuade either side from launching a "first strike" nuclear attack.
As amended in 1974 and currently in effect today, the ABM Treaty prohibits either the US or Russia from developing, testing, or deploying anti-ballistic missile defense systems capable of protecting the entire country. Both nations are allowed to construct only one land-based missile defense facility each, to be stocked with no more than 100 anti-missile missiles plus associated radar and testing equipment.
Mobile ground, as well as sea- and space-based launching stations, along with anti-missile systems based on "other physical principles" beyond the scope of missile technology common in 1974 are also banned.
Even the early phase of the US missile defense system calls for deployment of ship-launched missiles and airplane-mounted, missile-destroying lasers by as early as 2005. The US Department of Defense concedes that both systems violate the terms of the ABM treaty.
In a statement following Saturday's test, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Yakovenko said, "A logical question again arises -- why take matters to the point of placing under threat the entire internationally agreed structure of nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation, including its core, the 1972 ABM treaty?"
Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld has stated that while future testing and development of the missile defense system would violate the ABM treaty, the US intends to continue negotiation of an agreement acceptable to Russia. "We have every intention of working out an arrangement with the Russians, and I think we will," said Secretary Rumsfeld.
Suggested alternatives for the future of the ABM treaty range from scrapping it to amending it to allow Russia to develop its own missile defense system. The suggestion has even been made that the US and its allies form a joint venture to participate in assisting Russia with construction of a missile defense system.
While all treaties require the approval of the Senate to take effect, the 1979 Supreme Court ruling in the case of GoldWater v. Carter confirmed that the president has the power to modify or terminate treaties without the consent of the Senate.