Counter Measures Essay, Research Paper
National Missile Defense (NMD) is once again a growing concern in America.
There have been many new developments since the post-Cold War elimination of
nuclear warfare. This diminishing of arms however, is a very fine line. The
United States cannot afford to have less capability then the rest of the world,
but it does want to encourage unilateral non-proliferation of nuclear arms. In
addition, there is a new awareness of ?rogue? nations that are completely
unpredictable. Since the post-Cold War the United States has been able to rely
on the major nations and more or less predict if they are a threatening
adversary or not. In any case, this doubt has caused the new investigation of a
possible deployment of a National Missile Defense. This movement is a huge
strategic, technical, and political decision. The consequences of such a
decision will indeed effect the next generations. In the recent decades many
treaties have come to rise, all of which have played an important part in the
growing concern of nuclear arms and the defense of American soil.
The history of ballistic missile defense is much involved and began shortly
after World War II. In the 1950?s the Soviet Union was able to deploy
submarine-based missiles capable of hitting the United States. In the 1960?s
this same arsenal appeared and expanded rapidly to land based systems. These
moves by the Soviet Union spurred a huge need for ballistic missile defense
programs in the U.S. In 1972 President Nixon and General Secretary Brezhnev
signed the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty. This forbids a nationwide
missile defense between the United States and Russia. The treaty called for each
country to build two sites that could attempt to protect limited areas. In 1974,
it was amended allowing for:
? Each may only have on missile defense deployment site with that site
prohibited from providing a nationwide missile defense system or becoming the
basis for developing one
? At the allowed site, no more than 100 launchers/missiles may be deployed
and guidance radars must be within a circle with a diameter of 150 kilometers
? New early warning radars may only be deployed on the periphery of national
territory and oriented outward
? Non-nationwide missile defense systems may not be given nationwide
capability or tested in a nationwide mode
? The transfer of missile defense components to and deployment in foreign
countries is prohibited
? Development, testing, or deployment of sea-based, air-based, mobile
land-based, or space-based missile defense systems and their components is
During the Cold War, this treaty proved effective because both nations
understood that a building of missile defense encourages offensive force. As
long as the capability of defending oneself against nuclear attack was
preserved, each would be deterred from attacking the other. Limited national
defense programs such as President Johnson?s ?Sentinel? system followed
the previous Presidential systems of the ?Nike X? and ?Nike Zeus?
programs. All of these were redesigned by Nixon?s ?Safeguard? initiative.
On October 1, 1975, the Safeguard System using interceptors with nuclear warhead
tips were deployed. However in January of the following year, the House of
Representatives and the Senate voted to close it down because the nuclear-tipped
interceptors would blind Safeguard?s own radar systems for navigation. These
systems repeatedly failed to develop a missile defense that could cope with
long-range missile attacks. The security of the American people was at stake.
Because each was lacking a capable defense, a race started in the build-up of
tens of thousands of nuclear warheads.
The United States and Russia maintained large nuclear arsenals of strategic
and tactical nuclear weapons. In the late 1970?s the Intermediate-Range
Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty arose between the United States and Russia. For over
ten years there was debate over the specifics of what the treaty was to include.
Each nation was reluctant to give up their new technologies that they had given
so much time and money in developing. However after years of confusion and
frustration, President Reagan and General Secretary Gorbachev signed the treaty
at a summit meeting in Washington on December 8, 1987. At the time of its
signature, the Treaty?s verification regime was the most detailed and
stringent in the history of nuclear arms control, designed both to eliminate all
declared INF systems entirely within three years of the Treaty?s entry into
force and to ensure compliance with the total ban of possession and use of these
missiles. This included the required destruction of the Parties?
ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of between 500 and
5,500 kilometers, their launchers and associated support structures and support
equipment. The Treaty entered into force upon the exchange of instruments of
ratification in Moscow on June 1, 1988. On December 25, 1991, the Soviet Union
was disbanded and therefore the treaty needed to be reaffirmed. The United
States sought to secure continuation of full implementation of the INF Treaty
regime and to multilateralize the INF Treaty with twelve former Soviet
republics. Of the twelve, six including Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia,
Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan have INF facilities and are participants
of the Treaty. Of important mention is the inspection process by which these
countries adhere. All members of the INF Treaty have agreed to on-site
inspections, short-notice inspections of declared and formerly declared
facilities, and elimination inspections to confirm elimination of INF systems in
accordance with agreed procedures.
Although the United States? and the former Soviet Union?s arsenals have
declined substantially from their Cold War peaks, both still remain at levels
far in excess of any reasonable current military requirement. The United States
is helping Russian military safely dismantle much of its nuclear arsenal. From a
peak of nearly 70,000 nuclear warheads in the late 1980?s the total number of
U.S. and Russian warheads has declined to about 30,500 today. The Strategic Arms
Reduction Treaty (START) was drafted in 1991 and entered into force in 1994;
this treaty reduced strategic nuclear arsenals including land-based long-range
missiles, submarine-launched ballistic missiles, heavy bombers, warheads for
strategic land and sea-based missiles, and heavy bombers built up during the
Cold War. The START process has substantially reduced the Russian nuclear threat
to the United States. Because of START I, the United States and Russia are each
dismantling approximately 2,000 nuclear warheads every year. START II was then
proposed and signed in 1993 and entered into US force in 1997. Russia ratified
it this past year. It cut arsenals to 3,500 or fewer deployed strategic weapons
on each side. At the same time the United States and Russia are discussing a
START III, which could lead to even further cuts. In that treaty, Russia and the
United States may agree that warheads cut will be accompanied by the verified
dismantlement of the decommissioned weapons and the transfer of their fissile
material to monitored storage to prevent reuse in other weapons. After START
III, China, the United Kingdom, and France, as well as India, Pakistan and
Israel, may also be brought into the nuclear arms control process. Far more
missiles have been destroyed through diplomacy in recent years than any missile
defense system could ever hope to intercept.
Another political movement to curb nuclear warfare is the Missile Technology
Control Regime (MTCR). This is a voluntary agreement that seeks to stop the
transfer of the delivery systems of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). These
systems include missiles, unmanned air vehicles, and related technology capable
of carrying a 500-kilogram payload a distance of at least 300 kilometers.
Currently 32 countries participate in the MTCR including Ukraine, Russia,
Argentina, Brazil, South Africa, China and Japan.
Currently the United States does not seem to have a firm assessment of where
it want to take its National Missile Defense program. There are huge factors to
weigh in the decision. Looking back for the Cold War days, the United States
knows that any National Missile Defense program deployed could result in a
Chinese Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) build-up, a nuclear arms race
in South Asia, and pressure on countries like Japan and South Korea to build
their own nuclear weapons. Many of the treaties and understandings that have
kept the nuclear peace for forty-five years may be lost forever. Thus, this
decision is of the utmost importance.
On September 1st of this year President Clinton declined the United States?
move toward a deployment of the proposed ?limited? national missile defense.
The Clinton Administration had previously proposed to have a working system by
late 2005. His decision was based on four main criteria: the readiness of
technology, the impact of deployment on arms control and relations with Russia,
the cost of the system, and the threat.
The readiness of technology played a huge role in President Clinton?s
decision. Effective missile defense can be compared with hitting a bullet with a
bullet. Warheads of long-range missiles travel at speeds of up to 15000mph. The
US proposal calls for a ?kinetic kill? in which the interceptor must hit the
warhead. In February 1998 the Pentagon appointed a panel to review the national
missile defense programs. This panel found ?a rush to failure? approach was
being undertaken. In 1999 that same panel was asked to reassess the program.
Once again the program found the Pentagon?s approach to be extremely risky
stating, ?the DRR should be regarded more as feasibility decision with some
long-term deployment actions rather than a readiness decision.? In February
2000 the Pentagon?s Director of Operational Testing and Evaluation express
similar concerns. Namely that ?unrealistic pressure? is being placed on this
defense system because it is ?schedule driven? rather than event driven. It
called for more time and a more thorough analysis.
So the question arises, ?What makes a national missile defense system
technically ready?? The Clinton Administration said that it must:
? The involved technology must be mature; it must work on a basic level
? It must operate effectively in the real world and work against several
missile equipped with readily-available countermeasures
? It must be fully reliable and work consistently
The Pentagon plans to conduct 19 intercept tests prior to completing
deployment of the national missile defense in 2005. However, only three were
conducted prior to Clinton?s decision. The first on October 2, 1999, test only
the exoatmospheric kill vehicle. This is the part that actually hits the
incoming warhead. No ground-based radars, satellite-based infrared sensors, and
communications systems were integrated into the test. Instead, a global
positioning transmitter was attached to the booster to pinpoint it own location.
In addition a balloon decoy was launched with the mock warhead. The test results
conclude that the interceptor found the balloon from space and thus was able to
find the mock warhead. However, the balloon was much larger than the warhead and
many testers doubt that the interceptor would have been able to find the warhead
had the balloon decoy not be launched as well.
The second test on January 18, 2000 provided terrible results. The kill
vehicle failed to hit the mock warhead. In this test, the ground-based radars
were used, along with the battle management system. According to the Pentagon, a
malfunction in the infrared sensors caused the miss. The third test, was yet
another failure. The diagram below explains what should have occurred versus
what actually occurred.
1) A modified Minuteman II intercontinental ballistic missile carrying a mock
warhead and a decoy was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., around
9:15 p.m. Pacific Time.
2) Space-based and ground-based radar attempt to detect, identify and track
the simulated threat.
3) Some 20 minutes later, the intercepting "kill vehicle" was
launched on a missile from Kwajelein Atoll, about 4,300 miles away in the
southern Pacific Ocean. The kill vehicle was supposed to separate from the
missile, but failed to do so.
4) Sensors on the kill vehicle were to have guided it toward the target
warhead, rather than the decoy. The two objects were supposed to collide at
12,000 miles per hour, 140 miles above the Pacific Ocean.
This apparent technological insufficiency helped lead Clinton to the decision
to decline the implementation of the national missile defense.
The second criterion that was evaluated was the impact of development of arms
control. Since the Cold War, many treaties have been signed and understandings
have been made. With the US possibly developing a national missile defense, the
stable balance that has been yearned for will again be interrupted. To build
such a defense, the United States must get either Russian agreement to modify
the ABM Treaty, or withdraw from it. Currently, the United States wants to
preserve the Treaty because the US Administration feels it is the ?cornerstone
of strategic stability.?
Yet the initial phase of the Clinton?s Administration?s propose national
missile defense would violate the ABM Treaty in three ways:
1) The system attempts to protect the entire territory of either country
2) It will deploy interceptors in Alaska besides the one in North Dakota
3) Upgrading and deployment of radar systems around the globe to strengthen
early warning and guidance capabilities
These are just the first phase. The second phase of the system would violate
even more requirements because of the 250 interceptors in Alaska and North
Dakota and more radars and satellites. However, the Clinton Administration
contends that these moves are fully consistent with the intent and purpose of
the ABM Treaty.
This contention is viewed by Russia as a shaky situation. In February 2000,
Secretary of State Albright met with Russian President Putin and he stated that
he might consider modifications to the Treaty, as long as its fundamental
principles were maintained. Yet in June, the 2000 Clinton-Putin summit in Moscow
showed no hint of such an agreement. The most likely avenue for Russian
agreement on ABM Treaty changes would be an exchange for US concessions on START
III. Russia may to agree if the warhead limit set in START III was reduced to
1500. However the US resists this idea.
Even if the US and Russia can make an agreement on this matter, the US would
likely face a backlash against missile defense from China and still may face
strong questions from US allies such as France and Germany. The Chinese reaction
is crucial because Chinese leaders have expressed strong opposition to US
proposals to missile defense. Sha Zukang, director of the arms controlled
department of the Chinese ministry of foreign affairs stated:
Some enthusiastic advocates of national missile defense in the US have
repeatedly claimed that China is a main target for the development of national
missile defense by the US, because they think national missile defense, with its
limited capacity?may be very effective if used to guard against the potential
threat posed by China?s limited nuclear capability. This kind of Cold War
logic will seriously undermine the positive coordination and cooperation between
China and the United States in relevant fields over the years. Furthermore, if
the situation so demands, China will have no choice but to review a series of
policies on arms control, disarmament, and prevention of proliferation.
China is already in the process of slowly modernizing its nuclear arsenal to
include longer-range missiles, some with multiple warheads. The pace and size of
these increases, along with the use of countermeasures, could be accelerated in
response to deployment of a US national missile defense.
A larger Chinese arsenal could also pressure Japan, South Korea, Pakistan,
and India to react with their own subsequent measures. In addition, Western
allies have also expressed concern about US deployment of a national missile
defense system. Primarily they are concerned with a new arms race and increased
tensions with Russia.
Along with wreaking havoc on the nuclear arms reduction process the US
abrogation of the ABM Treaty could dangerously undermine the non-proliferation
regime. Under the NPT the five declared nuclear weapon states?China, France,
Russia, The United Kingdom, and the United States?agreed to pursue nuclear
disarmament. This is a major concern because the US has been attempting to
persuade China, North Korea, India, and Pakistan to ratify their testing of
In essence if the US builds a national missile defense system, new threats
will arise and the post-Cold War structure for controlling nuclear and missile
technology and weapons will be undone. Prospects for mutual, cooperative steps
to reduce nuclear dangers outside the treaty process would also diminish
The cost of the national missile defense is an overwhelmingly difficult issue
for the American people. Since 1983, the US has spent $69 billion and yet no
system has ever been fielded. Almost all of the money has gone towards the
research and development of potential systems, rather to their production. In
May 2000, the Congressional Budget Office reported that the Clinton?s
Administration?s proposal would cost almost $30 billion for just its first
phase and $60 billion for phases thereafter.
The main reason for the Clinton Administration to propose a ?limited?
national defense was to cut cost. They understood why the Strategic Defense
Initiative was shut down, and wanted to avoid such a drop. Despite the Clinton
Administration?s efforts, the Pentagon generally tends to underestimate
development and acquisition costs by 15 to 20 percent. In looking at national
missile defense, past estimates have been underestimated by as much as 30
Then the issue arises of cost effectiveness. The US spends more annually on
missile defense than the estimated total military budgets of North Korea and
Iraq combined. Even so North Korea can be expected to afford technologies that
may render the initial phase of US defense ineffective. This is true no matter
how large a defense system the United States builds. Offense is always cheaper
The fourth and final criterion is the threat that the US has from other
countries deploying nuclear missile attacks. Russia maintains 2,000 strategic
nuclear warheads on high alert, together capable of destroying the United States
in under an hour. No plausible missile defense could defend such an attack. The
national missile defense proposed is not designed to counter such an attack;
instead it is designed to stop a threat by a few tens of warheads. Such an
attack could come from North Korea, Iran, and Iraq, or from an inadvertent
launch by Russia or China.
Currently Iran and Iraq are not in the position to launch such efforts. North
Korea has willingly agreed to freeze its missile flight test program while
discussions with the United States continue. In addition Argentina and Brazil
were competitively pursuing nuclear weapons in the late 1980?s and early 1990?s.
However, diplomatic persuasion led both countries to end their search.
Economic factors also have reduced the threat from many countries. During the
Gulf War the Allies bombed the Iraqi oil refineries, which cut their national
revenue, causing less nuclear development.
The biggest concern of foreign threat is the new formation of ?rogue?
nations. The presumption is that these nations are irrational. They will develop
missiles capable of hitting the United States and use them despite the almost
certain devastating consequences. A January 19, 2000 statement by US Deputy
Secretary of Defense John Hamre explains why North Korea is a threat:
North Korea is a legitimate source of worry about a surprise missile attack,
since it has invested heavily in developing a long-range missile capability,
even though no on is threatening it and even while many of its people are
starving. There is no rational reason why North Korea, with the economic straits
that they are in, would choose such a provocative thing to do. This is a country
that doesn?t care about the opinion of the international community and
therefore must be judged capable of attacking the United States unprovoked.
With this view, the United States has little choice of how to deal with North
Korea. It is a dictatorship with a large army. It also is a leading concern in
the proliferation of nuclear warheads because it exports missiles. Its
leadership is isolated and difficult to work with. It has engaged in terrorist
activities, and it frequently violates minor military provocations against South
Korea. In this light, the US must build a national missile defense.
Another threat addressed by Clinton?s Administration is a terrorist?s
ransom. If the leader of a country blackmailed the US by aiming a nuclear
missile at a US city, the US would have to make a decision about the true
capability. Is it a bluff or not? They would have to comply or be ready to
launch their own defense. For example, the question arises if the US would have
attacked Iraq if Saddam Hussein had had a nuclear-tipped missile. To avoid this
contingency, the argument is that the US should build a ?limited? nationwide
In looking at the broader perspective of threats, the United States is a very
fortunately country. We have huge oceans on either side so there are few threats
to its soil. This long distance from threatening countries focuses the threats
that the United States will encounter to missiles. The Clinton Administration
contends that while dangers exist within the boarders like the bombing at the
World Trade Center and Oklahoma City, the US has interests and allies around the
globe. In addition, US security as a whole depends not only on military force,
but also on financial ties, trade relations, and international cooperation. The
US is inextricably linked to the global economy.
For these reasons, the Clinton Administration proposed a ?limited?
national missile defense system. Yet, as a closer look was given to these four
main criteria, it became apparent that the US is not currently ready for such a
system. The consequences and uncertainties in all four of these factors played a
huge role in the decision process. On September 1, 2000, President Clinton
announced that he would delay the national missile defense. He urged the US
Armed Forces to continue in their develop of new technologies that might make
such an advancement possible, but ultimately reserved the national missile
defense?s future for the next President. Whether Al Gore or George Bush
officially wins this next election, one will most likely decide the fate of the
national missile defense. One will have to weigh the evidence and conclusions
drawn by these three tests and these four criteria.
Countermeasures to a nuclear attack on the United States have been a major
focus of the United States for nearly 40 years. In many cases the suspected ICBM?s
and other traditional methods may not be used in a nuclear attack on the US. As
early as 1964 the US was reportedly was spending 300-400 million dollars on
countermeasures. The Union of Concern Scientists has done an exhaustive study on
countermeasures against ground based, terminal phased missile defense systems.
?Countermeasures? can be summarized in two main claims:
1) ?Simple? countermeasures will defeat the US National Missile Defense
system in its presently proposed configuration.
2) Any rouge state that could mobilize the human and technological resources
to develop a nuclear tipped long-ranged ballistic missile would have no
difficulty in developing and deploying.
Before discussing the technical issues and countermeasures, it is important
to note that critics of ?Countermeasures? state that the NMD configuration
is not frozen in its current design features. There argument is that no major
weapon system is ever static: it grows and evolves from its original base line
configuration in response to its growth of threats. Thus, from their point of
view, it is reasonable to assume that the US designers will react to the new
When discussing the vulnerability of the United States and ?simple?
countermeasures, ?simple? is the chosen word because the implementation of
such a measure because of the relative easiness there is when comparing to
building an ICBM with a nuclear warhead. In short, to build an ICBM there must
exist highly experience scientists and engineers all with vast abilities. If
this is the case and such technicians are available, then the progression to
implementation would in fact be simple.
?Countermeasures? discusses many different ways in which missiles could
bypass our defense system and hit US soil. These different methods are debated
frequently. Some say that they are feasible today, yet others argue that most if
not all are not realistic today. In any case, this exhaustive study does not
include certain more secretive ways of targeting the United States with nuclear
warheads. For instance, if countries were to attack the United States by way of
the United States Postal Service or some other mail carrier. If a warhead can be
made, certainly it can be smuggled into the US borders. Also, it could be
transported via ship cargo. As mentioned before, the World Trade Center and
Oklahoma City bombing never should have happened. These incidents should not
have been possible. Yet, they did occur. They did take the lives of innocent
Americans. So what is to be done? How can the United States defend against such
a childish and cowardly act?
In March 1995, US Customs agents in Miami launched a two-year undercover
investigation reaching into high-level official circles in Russia, Bulgaria and
Lithuania. It would become the first credible case of a scenario to smuggle
tactical nuclear weapons into the United States. Although the undercover
officials obtained many arms, no nuclear weapons could be brought back because
U.S. national security policy prohibits any sting operation that might bring
nuclear devices or material onto American soil. In the end, evidence was
provided to the US government that such dealings could, in fact, occur.
The source of these cowardly attacks will most likely be from former Soviet
Union missiles. During the political break up into individual nations, much
conflict arose that allowed for the stealing of nuclear weapons and equipment.
Chris Wallace, Chief Correspondent of ?20/20? interviewed a black market
nuclear arms dealer, Tatiana, for Primetime Live television. In the interview
goes as follows:
Chris Wallace: So if I come to Moscow and I have enough money, what can I
Chris Wallace: Everything? Uranium?
Tatiana: No problem.
Chris Wallace: Plutonium?
Chris Wallace: Nuclear Triggers?
Tatiana: No trouble. Without any problem.
Chris Wallace: You?re saying that I can buy the materials.
Tatiana: In order to do good bombs. Yes.
This interview shows the terrible resources available in Russia. It can
reasonably be assumed that such areas of the world are not only limited to
Russia. Some say that Germany is another possibility. Despite how many areas
provide such resources, one would be enough to cause serious problems to the
United States. If one thing is certain, merely one nuclear warhead can cause
So then what is the United States to do? How can they stop such
countermeasures to the national defense? Is it possible? It is terribly
difficult to find answers to such a difficult question. No American politician
wants to address such a problem because there seems to be no solution. No one
wants to be the bearer of bad news. It is essentially an unspoken area.
Regardless of possible countermeasures, the United States seems to feel that
some type of National Missile Defense is necessary. How much or how little is
still a question to be answered. Advocates of a new NMD would argue that the
lives of the American people are at stake and therefore little concern should be
given to a price. They see an American dream that should be preserved and an
American dominance that should continue as the global leader in the pursuance of
active defense. There are still those however, who seem to see the practicality
of a NMD. They reflect upon the history of missile defense systems and see
previous failed versions and the growing costs of such new initiatives. They
know the test results of the first three Pentagon tests and doubt the highly
sophisticated technology involved in the process. They may also even know the
treaties that the United States has signed, and in some cases drafted, and the
US can only continue with new programs if they rewrite these treaties or back
out of them. In any case, it will take rigorous meetings to maintain balance and
control of the world?s pursuance in similar defensive and offensive
strategies. These critics also see the countermeasures and loopholes available
to those who really want to attack the United States. So these two sides are to
be weighed by the next President of the United States.
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Rubin, Uzi. ?Comments on the UCS Report on Countermeasures.? July 2000.
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