National Missile Defense: Issues for Congress
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS WASHINGTON DC CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE
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Many in Congress and outside the government have shown strong interest in deploying a ballistic missile defense to protect the United States from attack. The ABM Treaty prohibits nationwide defense but permits the United States to deploy up to 100 interceptors for long-range ballistic missiles at a single site. Many supporters of National Missile Defense NMD argue that the United States must amend or abrogate this treaty so that it can pursue a more robust defense. The United States has pursued the development and deployment of defenses against long-range ballistic missiles since the early 1950s. It deployed a treaty-compliant site in North Dakota in the mid-1970s, but shut it down after only a few months of operation. President Reagan launched a research and development effort into more extensive defenses in the early 1980s, but these plans were scaled back several times during the Reagan and Bush Administrations. The Clinton Administration initially focused NMD efforts on technology development, but, in 1996, outlined a strategy to pursue the development and deployment of an NMD system by 2003 if the threat warranted and the technology was ready. In January 1999, the Administration announced that it had adjusted this program to permit deployment in 2005, and would decide in Summer 2000 whether to proceed with deployment of up to 20 at a single site. This was modified in February 2000 to allow for 100 interceptors. The Bush Administration favors a more robust NMD program that is likely to include land, sea, and space-based assets. The President emphasized his Administrations commitment to missile defenses in a speech on May 1, 2001.
- Government and Political Science
- Antimissile Defense Systems