Magazine article Arms Control Today

U.S. Rejects Moscow's Proposal to Limit ATBM Interceptor Spe

Magazine article Arms Control Today

U.S. Rejects Moscow's Proposal to Limit ATBM Interceptor Spe

Article excerpt

The United States has rejected a Russian proposal at the Standing Consultative Commission (SCC) discussions in Geneva during April on how to define the difference between anti-ballistic missiles (ABMs), which are limited by the ABM Treaty, and anti-tactical ballistic missiles (ATBMs) which are not. Last November, the United States proposed that ATBMs be defined as systems that have not demonstrated a capability to intercept targets moving faster than 5 kilometers per second. Russia's now-rejected counter-proposal incorporated those parameters, but asked that ATBM interceptor missile speeds also be limited to 3 kilometers per second.

This has further focused the debate on the impact on the ABM Treaty of the U.S. position, which, as it stands, would clearly permit missile defenses with much greater capability than that of the Theater High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system currently under development.

In a letter to President Clinton March 25, all 44 Republican members of the Senate urged him to resist any restrictions on ATBM systems beyond the original U.S. proposal. The senators' letter argued that Moscow's proposal to limit interceptor speed would "likely preclude several promising U.S. TMD [theater missile defense] efforts."

PREVENTING SOME NEW INTERCEPTORS

Although accepting the Russian proposal would not preclude the testing and deployment of THAAD, it would prevent development of some interceptors under consideration for the Navy's Upper Tier system. …

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