Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor


Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor


Article excerpt

Dispelling the Missile-Defense Myth

I was disappointed to read the opinion-page article " 'Defend America Act' Is Not the Right Nuclear Defense," June 18.

For years, missile-defense opponents have evaded serious debate on the need to protect our nation against missile threats by focusing discussion on the limitations of a space-based, Reagan-era "star wars" system. The author perpetuates the mythical notion that this is the only option we have to provide a missile defense by falsely equating the Defend America Act with a "star wars" sequel. In reality, the Defend America Act calls for the deployment of a missile-defense system capable of protecting the United States from only a handful of ballistic missiles.

Defending against a limited threat does not require a multilayered, space-based system, and the bill does not mandate the deployment of such a system. According to Pentagon officials, we can provide this kind of defense from a single site at minimal cost - while remaining fully in compliance with the 1972 Antiballistic Missile Treaty.

With Russian soldiers underfed, underpaid, and highly demoralized, there is an increased threat of an accidental or rogue launch of a ballistic missile. Similarly, power companies recently cut off the power to a Russian military base - a base that is also the strategic command center for Russia's nuclear-weapons arsenal. North Korea's development of a missile that may be capable of striking American cities soon after 2000 is yet another potential threat.

We are already aware that China has sold ring magnets to Pakistan and that Russian accelerometers were intercepted en route to Iraq. Additionally, Russia is actively marketing to foreign countries converted, mobile SS-25 ballistic missiles as space-launch vehicles for satellites. If one of these long-range SS-25 missiles falls into the wrong hands, a rogue nation may be capable of attacking US cities.

We do not have to spend "tens of billions" of dollars to defend against these threats. The Congressional Budget Office released a new report estimating that deployment of a limited national missile-defense system by 2003 can be done for as little as $4 billion and as much as $13 billion. …

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