Spurgeon Keeny Jr, " A New Threat to the ABM Treaty: The Administration's TMD Proposal," Arms Control Today 24 (January 1994): 11-16.

A New Threat to the ABM Treaty: The Administration's TMD Proposal

Spurgeon M. Keeny, Jr.: Welcome to this morning's press conference sponsored by the Arms Control Association on the administration's proposal on theater missile defenses (TMA) that could constitute a new threat to the ABM Treaty.

We have called this press conference on very short notice because of a shared concern that the proposal the administration pre­sented in Geneva last week to the Standing Consultative Commis­sion of the ABM Treaty is so permissive that it would undercut the central objective of the ABM Treaty - to prevent deployment, or the basis for deployment, of a na­tionwide ballistic missile defense. The criteria would permit Russia or the United States to deploy mis­sile interceptors in any number with any level of capability or sophistication provided they are not actually tested against targets with re‑entry velocities of more than 5 kilometers per second, which translates roughly to a missile with a 3,000‑kilometer range.

Some of us here recall the great debate in the early 1970s about the potential capabilities toward a national defense of the Soviet Union provided by the Soviet SA‑5, a primitive air defense missile by today's standards. And in the 1980s, the United States was very concerned that Soviet testing of the SA‑12 surface‑to‑air missile (SAM) against the 900‑kilometer range SS‑12 ballistic missile, which had a re‑entry velocity in the 2‑kilometer‑per‑second range, would provide the base for a Soviet nationwide defense system. In discussing this problem yesterday, the secretary of defense admon­ished us all not to look at it from a strictly Cold War perspective and I think this is good advice.

I do not think this proposal threatens to reignite a major U.S.‑Russian offensive ballistic missile race as would have been the case if there had been a threatened nationwide defense at the height of the Cold War. But even though this proposal probably would not interfere with START I or even START II, it could very easily have a delaying or chilling effect on efforts to move toward signifi­cantly lower levels of strategic offensive nfissile deployments if we are faced with the possibility of nationwide defenses not only in Russia, but in many other countries as well. This is because this proposal would permit either Russia or the United States not only to deploy, but to sell or provide, these systems to other countries.

Moreover, the threat requiring this proposal is not clear. In his comments, Defense Secretary Les Aspin made a major point that there were some 20 countries actively engaged in the development of nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction. This threat has not been documented, and I think the statement is quite misleading.

He also suggested that there are a dozen countries with bal­listic missiles at the present time. Most of these systems are a very long way from the type of highly sophisticated missiles that the Theater High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system, which is presumably the motivation for the new U.S. proposal, would have capabilities against.

It is much too early to write off the non‑proliferation regime or Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) efforts to control the spread of intermediate‑range ballistic missiles. We admittedly have had a very serious problem with Ukraine and with North Korea, but I think these two problems are manageable, and if they are resolved successfully, the non‑proliferation regime and the MTCR will be in relatively good shape. Certainly, it is ill‑advised to appear to be radically weakening the ABM Treaty - one of the major arms control accomplishments of previous decades, in the run‑up to the April 1995 nuclear Non‑Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review and Extension Conference, when we hope to have the NPT extended indefinitely.

Finally, let me emphasize that we are not challenging the right or even the wisdom of the United States in developing some anti‑tactical ballistic missile capability if there is a genuine military requirement and if the system can be paid for and is competitive with other military requirements. But implementing this require­ment need not, and I would emphasize should not, endanger the ABM Treaty. [//12]

Jack Mendelsohn: I would like to talk about what has been going on recently and some of the problems posed as a result. I will make four points: what the United States has said on existing global protection system proposals; what the United States has said about multilateralization of the ABM Treaty, also last week in Geneva; what it has said about the demarcation line between ATBMs and stratgic ABM systems; and what it has said about clarification of the "capability" provisions of the ABM Treaty.

Let me start by saying the United States considered this a sig­nificant enough presentation that a member of the National Security Council, Bob Bell, flew to Geneva and delivered the plenary state­ment November 30.

Hs presentation addressed four issues: The first, a quite positive development, is that the United States again repudiated the "broad interpretation" of the ABM Treaty, formulated under the Reagan administration and carried on through the Bush ad­ministration. The Clinton administration also said it is not going to pursue the global protection system, thus backing away from the proposals the Bush administration had presented. The Bush proposals, as they relate to ABMs, would allow sensors to go free, would place no limit on basing modes or physical principles during development and testing, would allow up to six sites with 150 interceptors at each site, and would permit the transfer of ballistic missile defenses to third parties. All of that has been wiped out, all of which is quite positive. It reinforces the basic principles of the ABM Treaty.

Second, the United States also agreed to multilateralize the ABM Treaty. This, as with so many other things related to strategic affairs, has come up as a result of the collapse of the Soviet Union and the creation of a number of states where facilities relating to the Soviet ABM system are now located.

About 13 months ago, in October of 1992 at a meeting in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, 10 members of the Commonwealth of Inde­pendent States (CIS) signed the so‑called Bishkek Agreement. In it, they committed themselves to fulfill the provisions of the ABM Treaty and to conclude all the necessary agreements with the United States as separate, independent states. At the meeting in Geneva last week, the United States said it was prepared to mul­tilateralize the treaty.

Azerbaijan, which has a Soviet ABM radar on its territory but was not then a CIS member, has indicated its interest in joining the Bishkek Agreement. But Latvia, not a CIS member, also has a radar, and is not interested in joining the treaty but is interested in ridding itself of that radar. It has proposed a two‑year cooperative agree­ment with the Russians, at which point the radar will be shut down. The Russians would like a six‑year agreement. The Latvians are also asking for rent and all kinds of sweeteners to continue in the ABM radar network.

The administration describes the offer to multilateralize the ABM Treaty as a very positive move, arguing that this will make it quite difficult to amend the ABM Treaty in the future. If some future U.S. administration tried to do what the Reagan‑Bush ad­ministrations wanted to do to the ABM Treaty, those kinds of amendments would be very unlikely to be carried through because there would be so many partners to the treaty. For that reason, the Defense Department opposed multilateralization in the debate that went on inside the U.S. government, but eventually it was overruled.

The third issue that came up is that the United States proposed a demarcation line between the capabilities of an ATBM and an ABM. As you know, the ATBM program has had a high priority in the United States since the Gulf War. The primary candidate for this ATBM is THAAD. Let me just point out that this system cannot go much further in the development process and on to flight tests, which are supposed to begin late in 1994, without certification that the system complies with the ABM Treaty and does not infringe upon it. This is either a congressional requirement, or perhaps a Defense Department requirement ‑ I think it may be both ‑so it was necessary - for THAAD developments to continue, to establish a demarcation line within the ABM Treaty between what is per­mitted for ATBMs and what would be labeled a strategic ABM system. In proposing this demarcation, the United States said in Geneva, 'We understand the threat to be ballistic missiles of a roughly 3,500‑kilometer range, traveling at roughly 5 kilometers per second. We are seeking an understanding that systems designed  to counter that threat are permitted under the ABM Treaty as ATBMs."

I am told that at the table the Russians agreed, or rather, shook their heads and said, ‑ "Yes, that sounds like one of the major threats that is out there." They did not agree to the package, but they did nod wisely when the U.S. side explained what it thought the tactical threat was. There is no text on the table, but the United States did propose that a 5‑kilometer‑per‑second intercept speed be the demarcation line for ATBMs that would be permitted with­out constituting a violation of the ABM Treaty.

This 5‑kilometer‑per‑second demarcation line raises several problems, but let me mention at least four. First, this is a very high demarcation line. There is not much of a buffer between 5 kilome­ters per second and the speeds at which some strategic systems travel. The longer‑range systems travel at roughly 7 kilometers per second. And as Spurgeon pointed out, when we saw the Russians testing systems in the 1980s designed to intercept missiles at much lower speeds, we expressed concern. This was the SA-12 being used against an SS‑12 missile with a roughly 900; to 1,000‑kilome­ter range. As stated at the time in the Pentagon's annual publica­tion, Soviet Military Power, we considered this to be "a serious development, because these system are expected to be deployed widely throughout the Soviet Union in the 1980s. They could, if properly supported, add significant point target defense coverage to a nationwide Soviet ABM deployment." These are systems that were operating at less than 3 kilometers per second.

A second problem raised by this demarcation line involves legal issues because of the way we originally interpreted this demarcation line in our own internal deliberations and in connec­tion with the ABM Treaty's presentation to the Senate. John Rhinelander will talk more about that.

As Spurgeon mentioned, the third question prompted by this 5‑kilometer‑per‑second intercept speed is that it raises some fun­damental questions about what exactly the requirements are for an ATBM for the United States. What exactly do we have to defend against, or whom are we defending? This is not a challenge to the need for an ATBM of some kind, but it is a challenge to THAAD as the system best fitted to deal with this particular problem.

But perhaps the biggest problem posed by the U.S. presenta­tion in Geneva was the fourth one, again in connection with this demarcation line of a 5‑kilometer‑per‑second intercept speed. The United States asked for a clarification to Article VI of the ABM Treaty. The clarification was that the "demonstrated" (not the inherent) capability of the system would be the measure of [//13] whether an interceptor is ABM‑capable, or is an ABM and capable of countering strategic missiles. This means that a super‑capable ATBM, which we know would have ABM capability, would not be in violation of the treaty unless it actually demonstrated this capability.

This is the old "capability‑versus‑intent" argument, and the United States has, over time, constantly used the capability argu­ment and not the intent argument as the basis for posing chal­lenges. This is relevant to THAAD because although it will only be tested against missiles traveling at up to 5 kilometers per second, it will have some reasonable capability against a significant portion of the Russian strategic missile force.

John Pike: There are basically four fairly simple questions at issue here. What is the threat? What is the effectiveness of theater missile defense systems? What is their effectiveness against strategic targets? And what does this say about the interaction between offensive and defensive forces?

And all of these have to be addressed in the context of how we balance East‑West security con­cerns versus North‑South security concerns. Obviously, during the Cold War, primacy was given to East‑West concerns. Now, some are suggesting that we should focus on North‑South issues, basically con­cluding that the old East‑West issues are no longer of any relevance whatsoever.

When I look at the threat, it is clear that today and for the foresee­able future Russian strategic forces are going to continue to consist of thousands of high‑yield hydrogen bombs aimed at the United States. In contrast, in the developing world, we are basically look­ing at dozens of Scud‑like ballistic missiles with relatively small high-explosive or, potentially some day, chemical warheads. Dur­ing the Gulf War, these missiles proved to be a major annoyance during the conduct of operations, but had no significant impact on the outcome of operations.

From that perspective, when I look at the East‑West threat versus the North‑South threat, Russian strategic forces continue to have the ability to destroy American society, whereas ballistic missiles in developing states, while troublesome, in reality con­tinue to be no more than a major annoyance.

It is also important to recognize that, with the exception of the 2,000‑kilometer CSS‑2 missile possessed by Saudi Arabia, given the potential adversaries that the United States might be engaged in combat operations against, we are looking for the most part at ballistic missiles with ranges of less than 1,000 kilometers, more typically only a few hundred kilometers. This stands to reason because most if not all regional adversaries in the developing world that are building these ballistic missiles are relatively close to each other.

North Korea, for instance, would be interested in getting a ballistic missile with a range of about 1,000 kilometers but would have very little interest in one with a range of 3,000 kilometers, because Pyongyang is not interested in being able to target Myan­mar (Burma).

Secondly, in terms of the effectiveness of theater missile de­fenses, particularly against those threats we really have to be worried about, the Patriot "PAC‑3" missile is going to be able to do about all that should or can be done. There is no particular reason to believe that THAAD will be any more effective against realistic threats than the improved Patriot PAC-3.

Third, it is quite clear ‑ given its technological capabilities­ - that interceptors with technical characteristics similar to those of THAAD could be quite effective against the kind of longer‑range strategic ballistic missiles the United States and Russia deploy.

The THAAD interceptor uses infrared homing technology very similar to that proposed for the High Endoatmospheric De­fense Interceptor, which was the terminal‑phase interceptor planned in previous incarnations of the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI). It is quite dear that THAAD, as currently conceived, would have a capability against 7‑kilometer‑per‑second strategic targets ‑ very similar to that which it would have against 5‑kilometer­-per‑second regional adversary targets.

I am therefore led to my fourth and inescapable conclusion that, within the context of liquidating the legacy of the Cold War, now is clearly not the right time to revise the ABM Treaty in this direction. For the foreseeable future, unavoidably, the United States and Russia are going to have strategic ballistic missiles aimed at each other.

Obviously, we continue to be concerned about this. It is a political problem because we continue to be interested in imple­menting the existing START agreements and moving further to­ward deeper reductions.

As long as there is a perception that this is a problem that requires an arms control structure ‑ and there is general agreement that it does ‑ the logic of the ABM Treaty that prevailed during the Cold War continues to prevail.

It is only through very strict limitations on strategic defensive forces that we are going to be able to achieve substantial reductions in strategic offensive forces - for the foreseeable future the main threat facing the United States. That is the threat that should be given priority when we talk about revising the ABM Treaty.

John Rhinelander: In the immortal words of Yogi Berra, "This is deja vu all over again." I thought the ABM Treaty was behind us. But it seems never to go away. At the outset, I would be bold enough to suggest two propositions. The ABM Treaty needs to be reviewed and revised. It is 20 years old. Little has been done to deal with changing technology.

Five years ago, five of us in the room ‑ John Pike, Ralph Earle, Sid Graybeal, Patricia McFate and I­ - worked on a book called Defending Deterrence, which dealt with pro­jections of the ABM regime out into the 21 st century.

At that time, I focused on eight major issues that had to be dealt with. ATBMs were not a major is­sue because with the Intermediate­ Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty just behind us, the Soviet tactical ballistic missile threat had disap­peared. Missiles with a range beyond 500 kilometers were being dismantled. All that remained were short‑range missiles with ranges below 500 kilometers, which was the kind of threat ATI3MS would be dealing with.

If the proposal had been made in Geneva recently that the demarcation line ought to be a 3‑kilometer‑per‑second test, it would be a little beyond what was envisioned in 1972, but within its ambit. Nor would such a proposal need Senate advice and consent because it would be within the ambit of what was dis-[//14]cussed before the Senate in 1972. This would provide an implicit okay for the new Patriot PAC-3. This and other things should be done because the treaty has to be updated to deal with modern technology and the problems of the 21st century.

As stated earlier, there are two fundamental, substantive problems with the new U.S. proposal. The first is the 5‑kilometer­-per‑second maximum target velocity as the demarcation line be­tween strategic and tactical or theater defenses. This is significantly above what we thought about in 1972. With regard to specific parameters understood at the time, I would refer you to a state­ment inserted into the Congressional Record of August 8, 1972, by Senator William. Proxmire (D‑WI).

In response to his letter, he received very specific guidelines from the State Department. As Proxmire noted for the record, there was a clear distinction drawn between tactical and strategic ballis­tic missiles, and that the ABM Treaty applied only to systems designed to counter strategic ballistic missiles. The senator's state­ment is worth looking at, and as he points out, there was clear agreement that a missile with an RV with a maximum velocity exceeding 2 kilometers per second or a maximum altitude exceed­ing 40 kilometers was to be regarded as a strategic ballistic missile. The other problem qualifying "capabilities," which is a key provi­sion in Article VI, is linked with the very important word "dem­onstrated." During SALT I negotiations, the Soviets continually wanted to qualify everything as "specifically designed" for this and that. However, we did not accept it. We had to deal with capabilities.

An example of where this makes a difference is the infamous Krasnoyarsk radar being built at the time in the middle of the then‑Soviet Union. It was oriented directly toward a gap in the Soviet early warning radar coverage that had to be filled. The U.S. government correctly objected to this because it was in the wrong place and facing the wrong direction. Moscow finally admitted this. We dealt with capabilities, and that had to be the heart of our case because the radar had not been completed or tested. If we had waited until it was tested and capabilities had been demonstrated, the damage would have been done.

A basic premise of the ABM Treaty is not to have a nationwide ABM defense or a base for an ABM defense.

A second item is that ABMs are limited or prohibited, while ATBMs are not. The treaty definition addresses the ability to counter strategic ballistic missiles, and was understood to cover both submarine‑launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) and ICBMs. Article V, which was critical during the "Star Wars" debate, pro­hibits developing and testing mobile land‑based as well as sea­based systems. If it is an anti‑ballistic missile, it cannot be developed and tested. If it is an ATBM, it can be.

Article VI, the heart of the issue here, has a double test: It prohibits giving non‑ABM systems the capabilities to counter strategic systems, and the sides are not allowed to "test them in an ABM mode."

These dual restrictions are critically important and if you modify treaty text so that capabilities must be demonstrated, you have effectively gone to a single standard where testing is the only real restriction. This is exactly what we avoided for good reasons during SALT I negotiations.

Finally, there is Article IX, which deals with transfers. If, by agreement, a system is classified as an ATBM, it can be transferred abroad. Currently we are talking to the Japanese, to the Europeans and to our allies in the Middle East about buying different kinds of systems. If it is an ABM system, it cannot be transferred and cannot be sold abroad. Therefore, if THAAD is considered an ATBM and not an ABM, it can be developed, tested and deployed in any numbers you want across the continental United States or anywhere around the world. It can be quickly deployed because it is going to be land‑mobile, and it can be sold to allies in any numbers we want.

The consequence is to erode the buffer and severely under­mine the ABM Treaty. Certainly this can be done if the parties agree. The treaty explicitly permits amending the treaty any way the parties want.

On this point, I was told last week the United States said in Geneva that it was not presenting amendments, but rather "clari­fications," which then do not need legislative approval either here or abroad.

I am very critical of this. I think the United States was looking at the other side, which could either mean one country  - Russia­ -  as many as 15. If this involved only one country, the United States was saying the proposal would not need approval by the Russian Parliament. If we are talking about more than one country, the Ukrainian parliament (Rada) is involved, and the last time the Rada voted on an arms control agreement, it did not do a very good job.

The problem here is that the executive branch is also saying to the U.S. Senate that it will not be asked to approve. I do not think that will be acceptable. The best guidance on this issue is found in the Senate's advice and consent on the INF Treaty in connection with the question of whether future systems would be covered by the treaty. In approving the treaty, the Senate set three conditions that were to be binding on the executive branch:

  1. The United States shall interpret this treaty with the under­standing shared by the executive and the Senate at the time of Senate consent to ratification;
  2. Such common understanding is based on authoritative representations by executive witness to the Congress;
  3. And, most important to the current issue, the United States shall not agree to or adopt an interpretation different from that common understanding except pursuant to Senate advice and consent to a subsequent treaty or protocol or the enactment of a statute.

Basically, the Senate was saying, "If you change what we have given advice and consent to, you must come back to us, and these changes will not go into legal effect as far as the United States is concerned until there is subsequent advice and consent."

At the time, Senator Sam Nunn (D‑CA) took the lead in providing some maneuvering room for the executive branch, which has been used ‑ and used with imagination. He stressed that new Senate advice and consent would be for important sub­stantive provisions, and need not include technical changes, par­ticularly those aimed at things like verification, which he pointed out could otherwise cause the whole process to bog down.

There is no magic line, and there will have to be negotiations between the executive branch and the Senate. Based on what I know about the ABM Treaty and how the Senate views its consti­tutional role, I think the Senate will say, "We have to formally consent to it!'

Finally, it is worth noting that this proposal is still at a very early stage, a long way from changes being agreed upon or put into effect.

The THAAD-1 may be a 10‑year program involving many billions of dollars at a time when there is a budget deficit. It is not clear where Russia stands, or where the U.S. Senate or other countries' legislative branches that might become involved will stand on these issues. This issue clearly needs public debate. The world has changed, technology is changing, and the question 'What is the threat?" is fundamental. [//15]

Kenneth Luongo: Let me first follow up on some points John just made, then talk about the crux of the issue for the Senate right now. The initial calls to the Senate from congressional liaison people said the ABM proposal can be handled as a clarification to the treaty in the Standing Consult­ative Commision and does not re­quire Senate advice and consent. That raised a red flag immediately for two reasons. One, senators were not consulted in advance about the proposed changes, and two, it seemed to them from preliminary indications that there was an effort to lock them out of the process. I know the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is very inter­ested in the advice and consent is­sue and is having preliminary legal analyses done right now. Comn‑dt­tee members are also calling the general counsels of the various executive agencies to gather their views.

In part, the administration presented its proposal as a clarifi­cation because of language in the defense authorization act that said, 'Please go to the Standing Consultative Commission and clarify the difference between ATBMs and ABMs." But that legis­lation did not say to blur the line between the two, and it certainly did not say to go beyond the current understanding of the Senate.

As to why I think Senate advice and consent is required: first, we would not be in this situation if the Senate thought the new proposal complied with the ABM Treaty. Second, the proposed change would affect the Senate's understanding of the limitations of the treaty at the time it provided advice and consent in 1972. And third, this would be a change in subsequent practice under the treaty.

All three issues ‑ or certainly the last two ‑ were raised in the 1980s with the Reagan administration's reinterpretation of the ABM Treaty. Also, some members of the Senate are concerned about what could happen if a treaty amendment goes to the Senate for advice and consent because the debate may open up other Wprovisions of the treaty to amendment or prompt "sense of the Senate" requirements regarding the treaty. These senators are concerned about legislating away some of the current provisions and limitations of the treaty.

Procedural issues aside, the politics and some of the substan­tive issues under consideration deserve mention. It appears to me Congress is now divided into three groups. First are the "ABM killers" who are only too happy to debate changes to the agree­ment, opening the door to lifting the limitations and thus, ulti­mately, either legislate away, or negotiate away, or ultimately withdraw from the treaty.

The second group includes those members who have a very clear understanding of the role of the ABM Treaty in the arms control process. They want to ensure that no actions taken by the executive branch would either unravel the current arms control regime or give rise to new threats to the United States that are more dangerous and more costly than those we currently face. In gen­eral, members in this category are privately skeptical about the new proposal.

The third group is more complicated, because it includes what I call the "TMD-maximzers," and there are two different sets of these. There are those who understand the ABM Treaty's impor­tance and want to try to finesse the issue of TMD maximization within the confines of the treaty. And there are those who, for political and other reasons say, "If we have to scrap the treat, so be it." Unlike those in the first group, they are not viscerally opposed to the treaty, but they are willing to let it die if it stands in the way of the ultimate TMD capability the United States could deploy.

At this point, I think the TMD maximizers and the ABM Treaty opponents, are in the driver's seat. They are happy with the new U.S. proposal, and it is up to the members in the second category to come up with questions about what exactly is being proposed.

Some of the substantive questions will revolve around such issues as the threat, the schedule, cost, allies and arms control. Let me amplify briefly on each of these. The threat issues have already been discussed. The CSS‑2 was the threat that was being defined, and further assessment is needed as to what the worldwide threat is in terms of intermediate‑range missiles.

The schedule issue is important, and really focuses on THAAD. In the wake of the Gulf War, Congress gave almost carte blanche approval to whatever the administration wanted to do on theater missile defenses. As a result, THAAD is supposed to be deployed without testing around 1996. That is what is driving the timing of this proposal ‑ the requirement people are trying to meet for the initial deployment date of THAAD. But they have run into treaty compliance problems, and that is why the administration has made this proposal now.

As for the cost, Congress has to ask a question related to threat. How serious is the threat? How is it developing, and do we really need this deployment schedule? Now that the U.S. ABM system no longer has high priority, people are going to be focusing more intently on theater missile defenses. The cost issue has different components. One has to do with how much it will cost to develop and deploy these different systems. THAAD alone is a $10 billion system, as estimated by the General Accounting Office. Another key issue will be whether Congress might decide to restrict the funding for this program, which would stretch out the schedule and possibly kill the program. This would obviate the need for the kinds of treaty changes we are discussing. The other issue related to cost is that if Russia, for example, upgraded the SA‑12 and deployed it around the world, how much would it cost the United States to develop and purchase new offensive weapons to over­come the defense that would then be regionally deployed? That is a serious question, which people on the Hill are very concerned about, especially in these budget constrained times.

That leads to this issue of the allies. There is concern about how an upgraded or very effective TMD system in Russia, or deployed in the Middle East or other regions, would affect the intermediate‑range offensive weapons of our allies; for example, France, Britain and Israel. These countries have not really spoken on the issue at this point, but people on the Hill see this as a potential lever on the process.

There are three arms control questions. One is how the new initiative on the ABM Treaty will affect the strategic treaties that we have in place or that are pending. Second, if the proliferation of advanced ATBMs undermines the deterrent effect of British, French or Chinese missiles, will these countries be willing to enter into a larger arms control process with the United States and with Russia to reduce their levels? Or will it spur regional arms races aimed at improving capabilities to overcome ATBMs?

In Congress, people feel that this proposal was not packaged together with any other arms control measures, like a global ban on intermediate‑range weapons, or a ban on the sale of advanced ATBMs. It was a very singular proposal that was not put together in an arms control context. Let me sum up by saying this is a serious issue for the Congress. Since Congress found out about this there [//16] has been frantic activity in some quarters in the Senate to find out what is going on and to address some of the issues. The key issue at this point is whether the Senate will need to provide advice and consent. If it does, it will mean a protracted fight. If the administra­tion can act unilaterally, then I think Congress may be boxed out of the process for the most part.

Question and Answers

Q: The ABM Treaty seems to have served its purpose. But why do we still need to worry about its survival?

Keeny: I think everyone has addressed that. But to say it again, the ABM Treaty still has a great deal of relevance with respect to Russia, and other countries as well, in maintaining a strategic environment where it will be possible to go to substan­tially lower levels of strategic nuclear arms than permitted under START II and to discourage the introduction of offensive nuclear arms in other parts of the world.

Rhinelander: I do not hear many voices of those who sup­ported the ABM Treaty in the past saying, "Throw it out now." While there have been huge changes in the world, there is still a huge arsenal in the former Soviet Union and an unstable political situation there. Coming up with a dividing line between ABMs and ATBMs has been an issue we should have dealt with 20 years ago. I think everyone on the panel would agree to a proposal on the low side, with a 1,000‑kilometer range and intercept capability in the 3‑kilometer‑per‑second area, which would permit the Pa- triot‑3 kind of defense against Scuds. That is the kind of threat that has proliferated. The only country other than China that has a longer‑range missile is Saudi Arabia, with its CSS‑2.

So it is almost like the McNamara speech of 1967 when we justified ABM deployment at that time because of the minimal Chinese threat. This proposal is to build a system against the Saudis. That is ridiculous. The real question is: What is the threat?

Pike: I also think it is important to recognize that while the THAAD acquisition program is driving the schedule for this treaty revision proposal, it is not the only system that would be covered by it. There is also the Navy's upper‑tier missile defense system. From a treaty standpoint, of the various systems under considera­tion, with the Navy's SM‑2 LEAP program, the area of anti‑missile coverage system would, under some circumstances, be drastically larger that of the Army's THAAD system.

If the Navy's system is permitted under the treaty, all the United States would have to do to very rapidly get a nationwide system, would be to have all the Ticonderoga Aegis cruisers come back to home port and ring the country with these interceptors. From the standpoint of being able to very rapidly break out of the treaty, in the long run the SM‑2 LEAP is probably going to be of far greater concern than THAAD.

Rhinelander: If THAAD is deployed and subsequently you get "Brilliant Eyes," which can be coupled to THAAD, you have more capability. We need to look at interconnected systems, and then at capabilities, not just single components.

Keeny: The reason we did not deal with the additional problems that Brilliant Eyes might introduce into the equation was that although it was apparently involved in the government's decision, it is our understanding that no proposals on it were made to the Russians last week.


Q: In light of what has been said about LEAP technology, could you address the lack of an altitude threshold in this ATBM definition?

Pike: It is important to recall that the criteria developed unilaterally in the United States and made part of the Senate's advice and consent process in the early 1970s included both a speed lirnit on test targets and an altitude limit of 40 kilometers. it is disturbing that in this proposed revision, in addition to substan­tially increasing the speed limit, and effectively eliminating the existing buffer between permitted and prohibited activities, the American proposal would completely eliminate any altitude limitation.Your question raises a very critical point. The 5‑kilometer­per‑second limit will not provide a significant buffer against being able to intercept strategic ballistic missile s, because with these types of technologies, at high altitudes, against targets in that range, the problem is not with the interceptor trying to catch up with the target.

The problem is for the interceptor to figure out where the warhead is going to be and simply positioning itself to get in the way of the incoming reentry vehicle (RV), basically letting the target warhead ‑ the RV ‑ do the work.

So, if at high altitude an intercept missile can hit a target coming in at 5 kilometers per second with, for example, a 75 percent kill probability, the probability of intercepting a 7‑kilome­ter‑per‑second target may be reduced, but nonetheless provides a significant kill capability against strategic ballistic missiles moving at this higher speed.

I would therefore favor a speed threshold in the range of 2 to 3 kilometers per second, and a codification of the altitude threshold that should be lower rather than higher, because one of the prob­lems of having no altitude threshold or an extremely high one is that it also permits anti‑satellite capabilities.

And because the United States is far more dependent on its satellites than any other country, that would obviously be moving in the wrong direction.

Q: What are the major differences between the THAAD system and the Patriot?

Pike: The fundamental difference is that Patriot is a radar­guided system and THAAD homes in on the infrared heat energy emitted by the RV after it re‑enters the atmosphere or before re‑entry. Lockheed is having tremendous difficulty figuring out exactly what THAAD is supposed to look like, and it is changing very rapidly.

One reason I am skeptical about the need to talk now about amending the ABM Treaty is that this is basically a paper missile. Until we have a better idea what this missile is actually going to be, it would be premature to say that modifying the treaty is something we need to do.

One other difference: THAAD is a much larger interceptor. Patriot PAC‑3 would be able to defend an area several dozen kilometers in range and altitude. THAAD would have an ability to intercept at altitudes above 100 kilometers and at ranges of 100, 150 or 200 kilometers‑a far larger area.

While it might seem that THAAD is therefore far more desirable, when the Patriot and THAAD footprints are laid over maps in the real world, it turns out we are spending a tremendous amount of money on THAAD to defend open ocean areas in the Sea of Japan or mostly unpopulated desert areas in Saudi Arabia. So Patriot PAC‑3 is extremely competitive with THAAD because Patriot can defend what needs defending without spending a lot of extra money defending whales from Scud missiles.