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JSPES, Vol. 26, No. 1 (Spring 2001 )
pp. 269-285

A Relook at Ballistic Missile Defense

E. Fox & S. Orman

The different views of Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) are examined to explain the lack of response to an ever-growing missile threat. The Clinton administration, having declared the ABM treaty a cornerstone of its international security policy, attempted to work with the Russians to modify the treaty. Because these efforts were unsuccessful, the Clinton administration only endorsed a development scheme and did not commit itself to the deployment of a National Missile Defense (NMD). Instead, it established a series of gates that must be passed before system deployment is possible. This paper advocates the creation of an NMD program with growth potential, recognizing that it could lead to withdrawal from the ABM treaty. However, because the closeness of the 2000 presidential election, it may prove difficult to get an agreement for rapid major changes of the treaty, or in the initial architecture of an NMD system. The authors recommend a course of action to take advantage of the additional time that will become available. The objective will be to ensure that the United States is well equipped to implement a deployment when the opportunity occurs.