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US missile testing in the Pacific

11 November 1999

Dear Friends and Colleagues throughout the Pacific,

The US Pentagon has just finished a Draft Environmental Impact Statement on the proposed National Defense System! We have until November 15 to submit public comments. Since an American "National" Missile Defense System, if one is going to be developed, will be developed and tested over the Pacific, the comments will need to be inclusive of the voices of Pacific peoples. This is not solely an American business!

On November 9, the world will observe the 10th anniversary of the ending of the Cold War and the opening of the Berlin Wall! After 10 years of "post-Cold War" peace-making, why is the world, and the Pacific Ocean, being subjected to this continuing military colonialism? What has happened to the so-called "peace dividend" whose coming was heralded as a substantial accomplishment of the ending of the Cold War?a How is it that "the gift of time," described by Jonathan Schell last year as a precious gift that history has bequeathed to humanity after a terrible period of the Cold War "to rid the [human] species for good of nuclear danger [and of the dangers of all weapons of mass destruction] and to secure the greatest of time's gifts: assurance of a future," been wasted? How has such a precious gift been so fleeting that humanity could not grasp onto it long enough to inspire collective work toward assuring a peaceful future?

However you feel about this, and whatever your politics is, we can bea sure that a revival of a potential arms race by a national missile defense is a certain possibility, if US successfully pressures Russia to modify the terms of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, which currently prohibits such a missile defense system.

Please take some time to jot some some thoughtful comments about the potential impacts of a missile defense system. Please submit comments to Ms. Julia Hudson in Huntsville, Alabama. Follow the instructions and Web links below to submit comments to the US Pentagon or sign unto the statement (see below) provided by the Disarmament Clearinghouse by contacting Joan Wade in Washington, D.C.:

Joan L. Wade, Disarmament Clearinghouse Coordinator, 1101 14th Street, NW,

Suite 700, Washington, DC, 20010a Ph: (202) 898-0150 x232, Fax: (202) 898-0172; E-mail:; Web:

Thank you for your kind help, and time.

Richard N Salvador
Pacific representative to Coordinating Committee of Abolition 2000: A Global Network to Eliminate Nuclear Weapons


To: Opponents of National Missile Defense Fm: Stephen Young and Joan Wade

Re: Sign-or or sample comments on Draft NMD EIS

The Pentagon recently finished a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the proposed national missile defense. They are accepting public comments on the EIS until November 15, 1999.

Below is the text of a written comment on the Draft EIS recently released on the proposed deployment of a national missile defense. Organizations are encouraged to submit their own comments to:

Ms. Julia Hudson
U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command
P.O. Box 1500
Huntsville, AL 35807-3801.

Alternatively, organizations can sign on to this statement by contacting Joan Wade at Disarmament Clearinghouse by email: or phone 202-898-0150 ext. 232, or fax: 202-898-0172.

Written comments are to the Pentagon due by November 15. Sign-ons must be received by COB Thursday, November 11.

You can also provide comments over the internet, at:

or via email:

Written Comment on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement on National Missile Defense Deployment

The following organizations are strongly opposed to the proposed deployment of a national missile defense.

President Clinton has announced he will decide whether to deploy a national missile defense in June or July 2000. According to the President, that decision will be based on four factors: the readiness of the technology, the impact on arms control and relations with Russia, the cost effectiveness, and the threat. On each of these counts, the case for deployment is weak at best.

1. The technology is unproven, and cannot be shown to be reliable or effective by next summer's scheduled decision.

2. Unless Russia agrees to modify it, deployment would violate the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty, a move that could unravel the entire nuclear non-proliferation regime and substantially increase the nuclear threat to the United States.

3. The cost of the system is unclear and likely to spiral upwards far beyond the $10.5 billion the Clinton Administration has budgeted over the next five years. The system cannot be shown to be effective and reliable under the current budget and deployment schedule.

4. The low-risk threat cited as justification for deployment, particularly North Korea's small and untested long-range missile arsenal, does not warrant the damage U.S. missile defense deployment would wreak on relations with Russia and China.

Each of these factors is reviewed below in more detail.

1. The readiness of the technology: Unproven by next summer, and by 2005

By next June, the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization will have conducted only three intercept tests of the proposed national missile defense system. Nineteen such tests are scheduled before the first limited system is scheduled to go online, in late 2005. The first intercept attempt, on Octobera 2, hit its target. However, this was only a test of the "kill vehicle," the last component that destroys the incoming warhead. The booster rocket, the radars, and the integrated management system were not tested. In fact, only one of the first three tests will involve the complete system, and all three will use surrogate parts, not the actual components.

So few tests cannot show the system to be reliable and effective by next summer's scheduled deployment decision. Even by 2005, when the system is scheduled to finish its initial deployment, the additional tests cannot prove this highly complex system to be reliable against real-world threats. For example, the Patriot, adopted from an anti-aircraft missile system, achieved a perfect test record, hitting its target in all 17 of its intercept attempts. However, when used in the field during the Gulf War, it failed dramatically.

2. The effect on arms control: Increasing nuclear dangers

The Clinton Administration is currently discussing with Russia modifications to the ABM Treaty that would allow the U.S. to deploy a "limited" national missile defense. Both Clinton Administration and Russian officials have repeatedly stated that the ABM Treaty remains the "cornerstone of strategic stability." To date, Russia has opposed all changes to the ABM Treaty and declared that U.S. withdrawal from it or insistence on changes would end the START process that is reducing strategic nuclear arsenals. This would leave Russia with 6,000 warheads that could hit the United States, many ready for launch within 15 minutes of a decision to attack. China already perceives that U.S. efforts to build a missile defense are intended to weaken the Chinese deterrent. China's current arsenal is around 20 long-range, single warhead missiles. However, it is in a slow modernization program to build longer-range missiles with multiple warheads. China would likely react to U.S. deployment of a missile defense by increasing the both the size of its arsenal and the pace of its improvements. Evidence of China's response to U.S. talk of abrogating the ABM Treaty is already developing, with Reuters reporting on October 25 that China recently added $9.7 billion to its defense budget to improve its nuclear arsenal.

3. Cost Effectiveness: Unsubstantiated

In January 1999, the Clinton Administration added $6.6 billion for procurement to its five year plans for national missile defense, creating a $10.5 billion total budget. However, most estimates expect even the small initial system envisioned in that budget would cost far more. The General Accounting Office estimated that it would cost $18 to $28 billion to deploy a small system. This merely adds to the over $60 billion spent since President Ronald Reagan launched his Strategic Defense Initiative in 1983, money that has not lead to the deployment of a single effective system. It will take far more testing, and substantially increased budgets, to deploy a system that can be shown to be reliable and effective.

4. The Threat: Does not warrant rushed early deployment

The proposed national missile defense system is being developed in an attempt to respond to the potential threat from so-called rogue states, specifically North Korea, Iran, and Iraq. North Korea, which has of these three by far the most advanced capability, recently agreed to halt its missile flight test program while negotiating with the United States. It has not tested a missile capable of hitting the United States with a nuclear warhead.

On Iran, experts are divided on whether it will be able to field a missile that could threaten the U.S. within the next decade. Iraq is under severe international sanctions that effectively hinder it from developing any new missiles. Neither country would be able to field an intercontinental missile if the decision to deploy is delayed until the missile defense technology is shown to be effective.


Postponing the decision to deploy a national missile defense is an extremely low-risk course of action. Put simply, deploying a national missile defense MAY slightly reduce the low risk of a catastrophic attack on the U.S. carried out by a very few nuclear-armed missiles. That is true IF it proves capable of effectively intercepting incoming warheads. However, it WILL increase the risk of massive attack carried out with hundreds or thousands of such missiles that will destroy the United States entirely, along with much of the globe.


Stephen Young, Deputy Director
Coalition to Reduce Nuclear Dangers
110 Maryland Ave. NE #505
Washingtona DC 20002
ph: (202)546-0795 ext. 102; fax: (202)546-7970 website:


Joan L. Wade
Disarmament Clearinghouse Coordinator
1101 14th Street, NW, Suite 700
Washington, DC, 20010
Ph: (202) 898-0150 x232
Fax: (202) 898-0172

Link to main page on nuclear testing.

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