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National Missile Defense: Russia's Reaction

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Congressional rept.

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In the late 1990s, the United States began to focus on the possible deployment of defenses against long-range ballistic missiles. The planned National Missile Defense NMD system would have exceeded the terms of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. Recognizing this, the Clinton Administration sought to convince Russia to modify the terms of the Treaty. But Russia was unwilling to accept any changes to the Treaty. It also decried the U.S. plan to deploy NMD, insisting that it would upset strategic stability and start a new arms race. Russia claimed that the ABM Treaty is the cornerstone of strategic stability and that, without its limits on missile defense, the entire framework of offensive arms control agreements could collapse. Furthermore, Russia argued that a U.S. NMD system would undermine Russias nuclear deterrent and upset stability by allowing the United States to initiate an attack and protect itself from retaliatory strike. The Clinton Administration claimed that the U.S. NMD system would be directed against rogue nations and would be too limited to intercept a Russian attack. This report provides a detailed review of Russias reaction to U.S. policy on missile defense and U.S. proposals for modifications to the ABM Treaty. It begins with a brief background section that describes the central limits in the ABM Treaty and U.S. policy on the deployment of missile defenses. It then describes Russias objections to the U.S. proposals. The report also provides a summary of possible military responses that Russia might take after the United States withdraws from the ABM Treaty and begins deployment of missile defenses. The report concludes with a brief discussion of the U.S. response to Russias objections, a few issues for Congress, and a summary of the Russian reaction to the U.S. withdrawal from the ABM Treaty.

Subject Categories:

  • Government and Political Science
  • Antimissile Defense Systems
  • Surface-Launched Guided Missiles

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