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United States Missile Defence 2001

Dr Robert E White, Working Paper No 11, Centre for Peace Studies, 1 December 2001


This paper presents a compilation of papers and documents which, it is hoped will give the reader a good picture of current United States missile defence plans and of the proposed test programme. Two sets of documents are included. The first is a set of four papers from respected independent researcher and analyst, Robert Aldridge, that provides first a general introduction to these missile defence plans, and then a detailed consideration of the US plans. Following this, a number of news briefings from the US Department of Defense are presented which cover the same ground but from an official viewpoint.

The US plans have raised a serious issue that is causing widespread concern. If proceeded with, the missile defence system as planned by the US will contravene limitations on such systems laid down in the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, long seen by many as one of the cornerstones of current strategic stability. This matter is examined in the third part of this paper, first by Robert Aldridge and then in a news briefing by the US Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, D Feith.

This compilation is quite long, but to attempt to summarise the material in it did not seem sensible since the result would have undoubtedly been inferior. However, to assist readers only wanting a brief introduction to this topic, a Readers Guide is included on p.vii.

1. Ballistic Missile Defense 1: BMD Structure, Battle Management,
     and Sensors
2. Ballistic Missile Defense 2: Boost-Phase Intercepts
3. Ballistic Missile Defense 3: Midcourse-Phase Intercepts
4. Ballistic Missile Defense 4: Terminal-Phase Intercepts


1. News Briefing 11 July 2001
Background interview on missile defense by two senior Defense
officials with a small group of reporters

2. News Briefing 13 July 2001
Lieutenant-General R T Kadish, Director BMDO, on the missile
defense program and the test scheduled for July 14


3. Special News Briefing 15 July 2001 following the missile defense test,
with Lieutenant-General R T Kadish

4. News Briefing 9 August 2001
with Major-General W B Nance, Program Executive Officer for the
Ground-Based Missile Defense Segment of BMDO



1. AMB Treaty and BMD: Conflicts and Violations
by R Aldridge

2. US DoD News Briefing 4 September 2001
with Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, D Feith












Treaty Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty
Ballistic Missile Defence
Ballistic Missile Defence Organisation
Commander in Chief, (US) Space Command
Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty
US Department of Defense
Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle
Engineering Manufacturing Development
Ground Based Radar Prototype
Intercontinental Ballistic Missile
In-Fight Interceptor Communication System
In-Flight Target
Integrated Flight Test No.6 (other IFT tests carry appropriate numbers)
In-Flight Target Update
Kill Vehicle
Lightweight Exoatmospheric Projectile
Multi-Service Launch System
Missile Technology Control Regime
Non-Governmental Organisation
National Missile Defence
Non-Proliferation Treaty
Re-entry Vehicle
Strategic Arms Limitation Talks
Strategic Arms Reduction Talks/Treaty
Theatre Missile Defence

The Aldridge papers include their own lists of acronyms


Brief Introduction:

For a brief introduction to US missile defence plans, associated problems, and support for and criticisms of these plans, a reading of the Introduction to this paper plus the first of the papers by Robert Aldridge is suggested.

To extend this reading somewhat, a reading of the 13 July US Department of Defense (DoD) news briefing is suggested together with an examination of the accompanying viewgraphs.

Specific Topics:

The four Aldridge papers offer the reader the opportunity to read either an introductory paper, the first of the four, or to select reading on the various intercept phases of the overall US missile defence structure, the boost phase, the midcourse phase, or the terminal phase.

The US DoD papers of July 11 and 13 cover the whole of the proposed missile defence structure, while the July 15 and August 9 briefings cover the successful July 14 intercept test.

The two papers in Part 3 examine problems the US programme has with the Anti- Ballistic Missile Treaty, and present the attitude of the Bush administration to treaties generally.


United States plans for national missile defence, or NMD, and for theatre missile defence or TMD, are receiving considerable attention in the media overseas and to some extent here in New Zealand. So why this paper about missile defence? There are two reasons for offering an introduction to missile defence at this time. First, no discussions of US missile defence plans from a New Zealand source have been seen, although they may exist. Second, only recently has the architecture and extent of the Bush Administration's missile defence plans started to become clear, although much detail remains to be revealed. In this new scheme, NMD and TMD are combined into a general 'missile defence' programme.

This introduction to US missile defence presents an outline of this programme. This is not a conventional 'working paper' in that the material in it is almost entirely the work of expert overseas US commentators, with only a very minor contribution by the 'author' of the paper, better perhaps referred to as its compiler. It is really a limited collection of papers and documents considered to provide a useful, comprehensive and reliable picture of present US missile defence plans and the associated testing programme. Even so it is quite long. To avoid its length being seen as a deterrent by readers only wanting a brief introduction to missile defence, a suggested selection for a first reading is given.

National missile defence as originally envisaged was intended to provide some level of protection for the whole US mainland from attack by long range ballistic missiles launched by some aggressor country against the United States. For clarity it is useful to explain what is meant by a 'ballistic' missile. A ballistic missile is a missile which for some of its path, or in the case of a long range missile for much of its path, is not powered and moves under gravity following then what is called a 'ballistic path'. This type of missile is propelled into the appropriate trajectory during a boost phase by some propulsion system which then shuts off. After this phase, the missile spends a considerable portion of its total flight time moving under gravity in what is referred to as the mid-course phase of its flight, before entering the terminal phase as it approaches its target. Many shorter range missiles are ballistic missiles as are all the very long range intercontinental missiles that have been developed by various countries. Cruise missiles by contrast are not ballistic missiles, they are powered throughout their flight.

Theatre missile defence has normally referred to the defence of forces in the 'theatre' of battle, or the defence of regions of one country from shorter range missiles launched by an attacking country. The attempted defence with US Patriot missiles of areas in Israel being attacked by Iraq with Scud missiles during the Gulf War is an example of TMD. Attempted because the Patriot missiles were very ineffective in this case, as the US Ballistic Missile Defense Organisation (BMDO) has reported, see the web site For extensive information on US long range and theatre missiles you are referred to this web site, and see An internet search using a search engine such as Altavista on the subjects ballistic missiles and ballistic missile defence will yield considerably more information on the ballistic and theatre missile arsenals of all countries in the world and the characteristics of those missiles.

As stated, under the Bush Administration these two areas of missile defence have been combined under the general title of 'missile defence', and the different elements and systems that went to make up NMD and TMD assigned different tasks within this combined programme of defence against ballistic missiles and in the future, possibly, against cruise missiles also.

Details of this new missile defence system are given in the first part of this working paper in the form of four recent papers from well known and respected analyst Robert Aldridge of the Pacific Life Research Center in California. Permission to reproduce these papers here is again gratefully acknowledged. The first of these papers examines the new missile defence structure and support systems associated with it. The three papers that follow are devoted to boost phase, midcourse phase and terminal phase intercepts respectively, and detail the systems and devices now assigned to intercepting a missile in each of the three phases giving a so-called layered defence system. The midcourse phase intercept programme corresponds to what used to be the national missile defence programme.

These papers are considered to provide an excellent and very up to date account of present US missile defence planning. The midcourse phase paper also discusses the test programme to date, and examines its successes and failures. A US Defense Department analysis of the most recent test in July this year is presented in part two. The papers by Bob Aldridge do reflect his personal views in some respects, in the conclusion sections particularly, and readers must form their own opinions regarding these views and these sections themselves.

Aldridge's papers are available on the following two web sites:

Ground Zero Center

The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation

His e-mail address is:

Following this in part 2, material from US Department of Defense (DoD) briefings and interviews issued around the time of the July 2001 midcourse phase test is presented that is considered to give a quite detailed DoD analysis of the US missile defence programme, and interesting information relating to that test. The first of the four DoD documents presents another overview of the missile defence programme from a different perspective. The second extends this overview and discusses the test programme planned. A number of viewgraphs released with this briefing and referred to in the text of the document are included. The third short release reports the results of the intercept test held on 14 July this year which was successful, while the final document examines this test in interesting detail, again with informative viewgraphs.

It is hoped that these two analyses from different sources and perspectives will allow the reader to form a reasonable picture of the present situation, of the test programme so far, and of future US plans as far as they are at present established.

Important consequences of the US missile defence system as now planned, and of an aspect of it not often or openly discussed, relate to two events that occurred about 30 years ago. These are the signing of the Anti-Ballistic Missile or ABM Treaty on May 26, 1972 by the United States and the Soviet Union, and the signing on January 27, 1967 of the Outer Space Treaty, as it generally called, by the United States, the Soviet Union, and the United Kingdom. Copies of these treaties may be found in the United Nations Treaty Series, and in collections of treaties like Treaties and Alliances of the World by N J Rengger with J Campbell, while websites for these treaties are for the ABM Treaty, and for the Outer Space Treaty. Present US plans are in conflict with aspects of both these treaties.


In the early 1960s the United States became concerned that the Soviet Union might be able to deploy a network of missiles capable of intercepting US long range strategic ballistic missiles, and in 1964 the Soviet May Day parade in Moscow featured a specialised anti-ballistic missile (ABM). Radars and launch sites for this Galosh ABM (the NATO code name) were built around the Soviet capital, and a few years later US intelligence warned that ABMs might be deployed elsewhere in the Soviet Union. This could have possibly undermined US nuclear strategy which was based on deterring a Soviet attack by threatening a devastating nuclear retaliation.

During the 1960s the US was also developing its own ABM programme, and negotiations with the Soviets aimed at limiting both ABMs and offensive nuclear missiles had begun. Bilateral Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) began in November 1969, and in 1972 the two superpowers agreed by treaty to restrict the development, deployment and testing of ABMs. The purpose of this ABM Treaty was to avoid the nuclear arms race that could have resulted if each side had been able to increase its defensive capabilities without restraint, leading the other side to retaliate by building more and more offensive missiles to overcome their opponent's increasing defensive capability. The ABM Treaty has ever since been seen widely as a fundamental factor preventing a large scale nuclear arms race, and as underlying nuclear arms control.

The central aims of the treaty are set out in the Preamble and Articles I, II and III. The Preamble sees the treaty as designed to curb the race in strategic offensive arms, to decrease the risk of nuclear war, and to create more favourable conditions for further negotiations on limiting strategic arms. Under article I, each country agreed to limit ABM deployment, and not to deploy ABM systems for the defence of the whole country. No NMD allowed in other words. This prohibition was designed to prevent one country from protecting itself largely or completely from nuclear attack while remaining able to launch an attack on its enemy, thereby undermining the basis of mutual nuclear deterrence.

Article II defines an ABM system as 'a system to counter strategic ballistic missiles or their elements in flight trajectory'. Article III specifies the limits agreed for the ABM systems and associated radar installation for the detection of incoming missiles. The number of ABM sites allowed was two, although this was amended to one in 1974. The allowed ABM system has to be deployed within an area having a radius of 150 kilometres and consist of no more than 100 ABM launchers and no more than 100 ABM interceptor missiles.

Article V prohibits the development, testing or deployment of 'ABM systems or components which are sea-based, air-based, space-based or mobile land-based'. Article VI prohibits giving missiles, launchers, or radars other than ABM missiles, launchers and radars, capabilities to counter strategic ballistic missiles or their elements in flight trajectory, and restricts any future radars deployed for early warning of strategic ballistic missile attack to sites along the periphery of each country's national territory and oriented outwards

Article IX prohibits the parties to the treaty from transferring to other states or deploying outside their national territory ABM systems or their components limited by the treaty. Under article XIII a Standing Consultative Committee (SCC) was established to consider all aspects of compliance with the treaty, proposals for amendments to the treaty and other treaty related matters.

The Soviet Union deployed allowed ABM defences around Moscow and still retains such defences. The United States planned to deploy an ABM system to protect silo launchers for intercontinental ballistic missiles, but abandoned this plan a few years after the treaty was signed.

Several of these treaty articles and of subsequently agreed limitations on allowed missile defence systems would conflict with the present US missile defence system and test programme as planned Part three of this paper presents a discussion of this problem by Aldridge, and a US DoD September transcript that gives the US Administration's position on how it sees the future of the ABM treaty and related treaties.


This treaty, officially designated the Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies, was unanimously approved by the UN General Assembly on December 19, 1966. It came into force on October 10, 1967. The Soviet Union, the United Kingdom and the United States were appointed depository countries for ratification documents which is significant in view of present US space plans. By February 2000, 96 states had ratified the treaty, and a further 27 signed it.

Article 1 states in paragraph two that,

Outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, shall be free for exploration and use by all states without discrimination of any kind, on a basis of equality and in accordance with international law, and there shall be free access to all areas of celestial bodies.

The exploration of space should be carried out for the benefit of all countries, with freedom of scientific investigation, and states should facilitate and encourage international cooperation in such investigation under this treaty.

Article 3 requires that parties to the treaty should carry out space activities in accordance with international law, including the Charter of the UN, 'in the interest of maintaining international peace and security and promoting international cooperation and understanding'. Article 4 requires states party to the treaty not to

place in orbit around the earth any objects carrying nuclear weapons or any other kinds of weapons of mass destruction, install such weapons on celestial bodies, or station such weapons in outer space in any other manner.

This article also specifies that all celestial bodies shall be used 'exclusively for peaceful purposes'. The whole thrust of the treaty is that space is to be used for peaceful purposes by all who wish to, and without hindrance, see Article 11 for example. This article also requires all states party to the treaty carrying out activities in space to inform the UN Secretary-General, the public and the scientific community 'to the greatest extent feasible and practicable, of the nature, conduct, locations and results of such activities'. The UN Secretary-General should then disseminate this information.

A 1974 Convention on Registration of Objects launched into Outer Space requires all signatory states to keep a register of all space objects launched, and to make this available to the UN Secretary-General for inclusion in an open register. The US has ratified this convention. By December 1985 it was in force for 31 countries and the European Space Agency. Further, on 17 June 1992 the US and Russia signed an Agreement concerning cooperation in the exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes. However, not all space launches have been reported to the UN as required, the US being particularly remiss.

The relevance of this treaty to missile defence is that the US Space Command has as part of a comprehensive plan for the domination of space by stationing actual weapons in space by or before 2020, definite plans for a space based component of the US missile defence structure. While not generally discussed by the US when its missile defence plans are under scrutiny, this space component would augment land, sea and air based components to produce a system described by US Space Command as approaching 100% effectiveness by intercepting nearly all an enemy's missiles, and having global coverage. An information sheet recently posted on US Space Command's website sees this space based missile defence structure attacking and destroying missiles early in flight, and land based systems then mopping up any missiles not destroyed by the space based system. The overall system would also be effective against cruise missiles.

The superiority such a protective system would give the US, especially if it could be made 100% or near 100% effective as may be possible when space based elements are included, concerns a number of countries which see the potential for the system to be turned from defensive to offensive use.

Very disturbingly, it is considered by many analysts that missile defence as normally discussed is really a smokescreen designed to deflect attention from these US plans for space domination, a view also held by the author of this introduction. The subject of weapons in space is discussed in a companion Centre for Peace Studies working paper, Working Paper No.10, 'Preserving Space for Peaceful Use: A Case for a New Space Treaty', July 2001, also by the present author.

No attempt is made to examine support for the US programme by other countries, or criticisms of the programme from a range of sources within and outside the United States in any detail. This detail has been omitted to keep this paper a reasonable length.

The US argues that it needs missile defence to protect itself and its allies from attack by so-called 'rogue states' and North Korea, Iraq and Iran are generally named as examples. The system is definitely not aimed at Russia or China the US claims, but the Chinese definitely do not accept this, and the Russians express varying degrees of scepticism A survey prepared by Todd Sechser for the Non-Proliferation Project of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, in Spring 2000 shows 33 countries, other than the five nuclear powers, that had, at that time, operational ballistic missiles with a range capability of over 100 kilometres, see The Carnegie website also gives information on the missile holdings of the nuclear powers, obtained by replacing bmchart in the above address with Numbers/country name.htm, eg. Numbers/China.htm. Other useful sources are the annual issues of The Military Balance, and a source, which should be very complete, Jane's Missiles and Rockets, although this source has not yet been examined.

Of these 33 countries only 6 countries, India, Iran, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, had missiles with ranges over 1,000 kilometres (km) that have been tested or are operational, and of these only North Korea has missiles possibly capable of reaching the US mainland. The distance from North Korea to Alaska is around 6,000 km and the reported range of the North Korean Taepodong-2 missile is possibly up to 5,500 km. The distance from Iran or Iraq to the New York region is about 10,000 km. Iraq is reported by Todd Sechser as having missiles with ranges from around 150 km to 600 km, and Iran as possibly developing a Shahab-5 missile with a maximum range of 5,500 km. None of the missiles listed for these countries appear to pose a threat to the US mainland at present. No reports of major changes in this situation have been seen. But the US also argues that long range missile technology will undoubtedly spread and improve, making the need for missile defence even greater in an unpredictable world.

Critics do not accept these arguments pointing out that it would be suicidal for any country possessing only a small number of long range missiles to attack the US which could respond with overwhelming force. Further, there are much more effective, simpler and cheaper methods by which a small country could inflict severe damage of various kinds on the US by using chemical or biological weapons, or other means as the events of September 11 2001 demonstrated horribly. And without necessarily identifying itself as the attacker and leaving itself open to retaliation. However, US determination to develop missile defence has hardened since September 11, the proponents arguing that a future missile attack could well be launched by terrorists.

For countries that fear possible attack by the US, this possibility that the US might erect a missile shield which for those countries would be impenetrable or very nearly so, particularly when the space component is developed, is very worrying. This shield would leave such countries vulnerable to an American missile attack while denying them the means to mount an effective retaliation. This is the situation China sees facing it, and to a lesser extent Russia with its larger arsenal of long range nuclear missiles. As Chinese spokespeople have put it,

When you invent a new shield, you will invent new types of spear. It always goes like that. (Foreign Ministry spokesperson Sun Yuxi, May 15 2001) … Once the United States believes it has both a strong spear and a strong shield, it could lead them to conclude that nobody can harm the United States and they can harm anyone in the world. (Ambassador Sha Zukang, April 29 2001)

An obvious effect of the US plans for missile defence is to make countries now possessing nuclear armed and other long range missiles feel the need to increase their stock of these missiles, and to make some countries which do not possess them feel the need to acquire them. These countries could then respond to US aggression by launching a long range missile attack of sufficient strength to overwhelm at least a limited US system, only capable of intercepting a small number of incoming missiles, should so they wish. While Russia may already be equipped to do this, China is not in the same position, and many analysts see China as the real target of the US plans. China possesses only a small arsenal of long range missiles that could reach the US mainland, some 20 to 24 missiles, and an effective shield could very likely intercept all the missiles China could launch.

Should China start to expand its missile arsenal, this could alarm some countries in the region and they might in turn feel the need to expand or develop their own missile stocks for their own defence. India could well react in this way, and that could trigger a similar response in Pakistan. China is reported to be increasing its military budget by 17.7% in 2001 'to adapt to drastic changes in the military situation of the world, and to prepare for defence and combat given the conditions of modern technology, especially high technology' said Finance Minister Xiang Huaicheng on 6 March 2001. This is much higher than the 12.7% increase in 2000. Even so the defence budget represents only about 1.6% of China's gross domestic product (GDP), is about half of Japan's defence budget, and is tiny compared with the US defence budget. Such developments would represent a serious undermining of Asia-Pacific regional stability.

Further, any expansion of nuclear missile arsenals would also run completely counter to the pledge by all the nuclear powers at the May 2000 Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference to their 'unequivocal commitment to the ultimate goal of a complete elimination of nuclear weapons', and having such missiles on high alert for the foreseeable future is very dangerous. It also runs counter to the agreement by that conference that one of the practical steps to implement Article VI of the NPT Treaty is

preserving and strengthening the Treaty on the Limitation of Anti-Ballistic Missile Systems as a cornerstone of strategic stability and as a basis for further reductions of strategic offensive weapons

see the Final Document from the conference, Part 1, Article VI and eighth to twelfth preambular paragraphs section 15, sub-section 7. The possible impact of the development of a missile defence system on the NPT and the strategic deterrent balance that now exists greatly concerns many analysts.

Developments since September 11 which have seen relationships between Russia and China and the US become much warmer may change all this of course. And the Russian and US Presidents have this November agreed to further substantial reductions in strategic nuclear weapons numbers. However, at these same meetings President Putin reaffirmed Russian opposition to modifying the ABM Treaty as proposed by the US.

The strongest support for the US is coming from the British Government. But even in Britain there is considerable public opposition to missile defence, and Tony Blair is having trouble with many of his own Labour members of parliament who oppose the US on this issue. Europeans for the main are seeking theatre defence rather than NMD. European countries are generally much closer to their potential aggressors so can defend themselves from such threats with relatively short range interceptor missiles destroying incoming missiles at low altitudes. TMD can also be used to protect NATO troops while they are on the battlefield. The positions of the NATO countries concerning NMD were still developing at the time of writing. Australia has expressed strong support for US missile defence plans, as has Japan for aspects of the TMD component.

Critics also question the technical feasibility of missile defence systems. A successful missile interceptor must be able to distinguish an incoming missile from a cloud of decoys accompanying the missile, and then make contact with a very fast moving missile high above the earth, travelling at peak velocities of around 5 to 7 km/second or about 11,000 to 16,000 miles/hour. On March 5 this year, Philip Coyle, former Director of the Pentagon's testing and evaluation programme before resigning in January 2001, described the testing programme as too simplistic. In his annual report to Congress he said that more aggressive testing would be necessary 'to adequately stress design limits and achieve an effective initial operational capability by the latter half of this decade'. The test programme is 'not aggressive enough to match the pace of acquisition to support deployment and the test content does not yet address important operational questions', he wrote.

Coyle said the flight test programme had demonstrated

a very basic functionality of NMD surrogates and prototypes. The test programme needs to broaden the scope of countermeasure testing if it is to quantify not only the "residual" capability that is part of the NMD operational requirements, but also assess the design margin and growth potential of the system design.

He was referring to the practice he described of the established nuclear powers to use decoys and other countermeasures that go beyond the level of sophistication projected in current US tests. But Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Rick Lehner, spokesman for the Ballistic Missile Defense Organisation, defended the current countermeasure test mix as representative of 'an unsophisticated threat' of the type projected to come from North Korea or Iran. 'The system we're developing now is designed to meet what we believe is the threat from rogue nations… and not from China or Russia', he said.

Coyle's report is examined in a 26 June 2001 US House of Representatives report available at Search on 'Coyle Report' if the 26 June report is not obtained immediately. It contains a considerable range of criticisms.

Another critical report has recently appeared from the US General Accounting Office (GAO), a Congressional watchdog agency, discussing the state of the planned US space based infrared sensor system, (SBIRS), which envisages one set of possibly 24 active and 6 test satellites in low earth orbit, and a second set of 6 satellites in high earth orbit. The system is designed, by using a number of sensors, to detect missiles launches by the missile heat trails, perform mid-course tracking, identify decoys from missiles, and cue land based radars that would guide interceptor missiles to their targets.

The GAO report Defense Acquisitions: Space-Based Infrared System-low at Risk of Missing Initial Deployment Date (GAO-10-6, February 28, 2001) says that 'the [US] Air Force's current SBIRS-Low acquisition schedule is at a high risk of not delivering the system on time or at cost or with expected performance.', and it was reported on November 7 in The New York Times, by J Dao that the US House Appropriations Committee is recommending cancelling this system because it is over budget and behind schedule. Proponents of space based missile defence argue that the loss of this system would be very serious.

The overriding criticism of missile defence must, however, be of the philosophy of the world's only superpower setting out to protect itself from attacks of the sort it is capable of launching against other countries. If such a system was developed that was nearly 100% effective, a virtually complete missile shield, it would change the world's strategic balance very seriously. It would almost certainly trigger a very worrying variety of responses from the other major powers as they sought to ensure their own safety from the possibility of a future militant United States. Russia's President Putin has warned that contravention or abrogation of the ABM Treaty could have serious consequences for other arms control agreements that depend on observance of the ABM Treaty. 'The ABM Treaty is like an axle to which a number of agreements on international security are attached,' Putin said. 'If we remove this axle, those agreements will automatically fall apart, destroying the entire present-day security system.' The Russian Parliament has written into law that Russia may not execute the terms of the START II Treaty unless the US shows that it intends to preserve the ABM Treaty. No recent comment from the Russians concerning this requirement has been seen.

The Russians have suggested that the threats likely to arise from long range missile proliferation can be mitigated through diplomatic and political efforts. They have also proposed a joint Russian-European missile defence system aimed more at shorter range theatre missiles, and mobile, that could be positioned as required to meet a specific threat. All these matters are still under discussion at present, but this latter Russian proposal would run into trouble with the ABM Treaty if the system showed any ABM characteristics. The treaty forbids extending ABM capabilities to other missile systems and prohibits land based mobile ABM systems or components thereof.

The possibility of controlling the spread of missile technology and missiles through some form of multilateral agreement is also being explored in various arenas. For example, the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) members at their 1999 meeting committed themselves to extending 'responsible missile behaviour' beyond their focus on controlling the transfer of missile technology, and at a meeting in March 2000 in Moscow, Russia elaborated this concept when it proposed a Global Control System on missile activities. Described by Mark Smith of the Mountbatten Centre for International Studies, University of Southampton as 'an amalgam of previous MTCR members' proposals rather than a solely Russian initiative' this system attempted to define 'responsible' missile behaviour and list possible incentives for states to be responsible.

At a minimum, Smith writes, this would involve making missile activities transparent - providing launch information and permitting launch monitoring - at the maximum, a renunciation of missiles altogether. Incentives would range from international assistance with peaceful space projects to security guarantees for states that agreed to give up missiles altogether. Missile programmes are driven by security concerns, he says, and will not be foregone in the absence of security assurances. A culture of openness is also necessary for future control of missile activities.

The most significant development, he states, has been in the MTCR itself which at its October 2000 Plenary Meeting drew up a set of principles, commitments, confidence-building measures and incentives, and packaged them into a Code of Conduct Against Missile Proliferation. Details of the code were not available when Smith's report was published by the Verification Research, Training and Information Centre (VERTIC) in the January-February 2001 Issue No. 95 of their publication Trust and Verify, e-mail, or It will, says Smith, be a flexible concept and, crucially, is based on voluntary commitments 'rather than the supply-side cartel model of the MTCR'.

The technology for verifying restrictions on missiles has made significant progress in recent years, Smith reports, although it is still a growth area. It is not easy to test a missile undetected, and verifying a ban on deployment depends on the way in which the missiles are deployed. Open air deployment or deployment in visible silos is relatively easy to detect, whereas detecting concealed deployment is much harder. Some of the verification technology such as photo-reconnaissance, radar surveillance and remote sensing satellites, are highly sophisticated but expensive. So the potential for meaningful agreement will be to some extent contingent on the verification technologies available to the parties involved.

It is hoped that there will be rapid and significant progress in this direction of control of missile proliferation coupled with effective verification measures.

The reader is referred to a recent working paper on missile defence by Dr Desmond Ball of the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, the Australian National University, Canberra,
(E-mail:; fax: +61 (0)2 6248 0816), Working Paper No. 360, 'Missile Defence: Trends, Concerns, Remedies', for a further review of this subject.

The US has conducted a further successful test of its missile defence system, IFT-7, the result being announced on 3 December 2001. This test was very similar in detail to the previous test in July, IFT-6, described in the US DoD news briefings of 15 July by Lieutenant-General Kadish and of 9 August by Major-General W B Nance, included in part 2 of this paper. Full details of this latest test can be found at the web site,, and of the results at

NOTE: This version of Working Paper No.11 does not include copies of the documents listed below in parts 1, 2, and 3, which were downloaded from the internet. Web site addresses for the Aldridge papers are given on p.9 above, and the US DoD new briefings can be found at, and go to the archives files if necessary.


1. Ballistic Missile Defense 1: BMD Structure, Battle Management,
and Sensors (pages)

2. Ballistic Missile Defense 2: Boost-Phase Intercepts (pages)

3. Ballistic Missile Defense 3: Midcourse-Phase Intercepts (pages)

4. Ballistic Missile Defense 4: Terminal-Phase Intercepts (pages) 15


1. News Briefing 11 July 2001 (pages)
Background interview on missile defense by two senior Defense
officials with a small group of reporters

2. News Briefing 13 July 2001 (pages)
Lieutenant-General R T Kadish, Director BMDO, on the missile
defense program and the test scheduled for July 14


4. News Briefing 9 August 2001 * (pages)
with Major-General W B Nance, Program Executive Officer for the
Ground-Based Missile Defense Segment of BMDO


* On page 8 of this briefing line 3 in the paragraph commencing 'We have asked MIT …', it is considered that the wording 'about 30 degrees RV to target' should read 'about 30 degrees KV (kill vehicle) to target', because the 'target' is the re-entry vehicle 'RV'.

1. AMB Treaty and BMD: Conflicts and Violations (pages)
by R Aldridge

2. US DoD News Briefing 4 September 2001 (pages)
with Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, D Feith


This Working Paper series presents current research carried out by members and associates of the Centre for Peace Studies, and aims to cover topics dealing with matters relating to a broad range of peace issues. Publication as a Working Paper does not preclude subsequent publication in scholarly journals or books. Unless otherwise stated, publications of the Centre for Peace Studies are presented without endorsement, as contributions to the public record and debate. Authors are responsible for their own analysis and conclusions.


The author, now retired from the University of Auckland, has an extensive record of research in nuclear physics. Since 1986 he has been engaged in research related to nuclear policies and strategies. He was a founder member of Scientists Against Nuclear Arms (NZ) in 1983, and was the Director of the Centre for Peace Studies from late in 1988 when it was established in the University until the end of 1999. He is now Deputy Director. He holds the degrees of Doctor of Philosophy (1957) and Doctor of Science (1981).


I am greatly indebted to Robert Aldridge for agreeing to have his papers on US missile defence reproduced here. These very recent papers provide an excellent coverage of these plans and of the associated test programme.Thoughtful comment, and careful editing by John Gribben is gratefully acknowledged. This work was supported financially by the Centre for Peace Studies.

Author's Address:

Centre for Peace Studies
University of Auckland
Private Bag 92019
New Zealand

Tel. +64 - 9 - 3737599 ext. 8897
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