| Spurgeon Keeny Jr, " A New Threat to the ABM Treaty: The
Administration's TMD Proposal," Arms Control Today 24 (January
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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 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
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
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
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
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:
- The United States shall interpret this treaty with the understanding
shared by the executive and the Senate at the time of Senate consent
- Such common understanding is based on authoritative representations
by executive witness to the Congress;
- 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
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
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
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
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
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.