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Strategic Defensive 5 Arms Con trot: The SALTiAnti-Ba] is tic Missile (ABM) Treaty INTRODUCTION The Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT)began in November 1969 under the Nixon Administration with the goal of limiting ballistic mis- sile defense systems and strategic offensive nuclear systems. On May 26, 1972, after two and a half years of negotiations, Presidents Richard Nixon and Leonid Brezhnev signed the SALT ~ Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty and the Interim Agreement on Strategic Offensive Arms. The ABM Treaty, which is of unlimited duration, obligated both sides not to undertake a nationwide ballistic missile defense and severely limited each side's deployment and development of ballistic missile defense systems. Recently, the renewed U.S. interest in nationwide ballistic missile defense has raised serious questions about the future of the ABM Treaty. (See Chapter 2 for a detailed discussion of the SALT and SALT IT limits on strategic offensive arms.) BACKGROUND The Origins In the early 1950s, in response to the development by the Soviet Union of nuclear weapons and Tong-range strategic aircraft, the United States embarked on a major program of nationwide air defense. The system was to consist of interceptor aircraft and surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) together with a complex network of radars, computers, and communica- tion for the ground control of intercepts. However, with the advent of 136
STRATEGIC DEFENSIVE ARMS CONTROL 137 intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), which could readily destroy the air defense system and against which no defense was deployed, continued buildup of air defense appeared futile. It was finally stopped in the early 1960s, and most of the system was later dismantled. Today only skeletal remains exist, leaving the United States with essentially no air defense capability. In contrast, the air defense effort in the Soviet Union has been contin- uous and intensive. The primary component of the Soviet system is a collection of SAM batteries consisting of over 10,000 interceptor mis- siles of different designs deployed throughout the Soviet Union. New and upgraded SAM systems continue to augment or replace those al- ready deployed. Despite these Soviet efforts, the U.S. military remains confident that its strategic aircraft, flying at low altitudes and employ- ing defense suppression tactics and electronic countermeasures, can effectively penetrate Soviet defenses. Moreover, by upgrading the bomber force it is believed that this penetration capability can be main- tained into the foreseeable future. Given this assessment of the limited effectiveness of Soviet air defense and the complete vulnerability of the Soviet Union to ballistic missile attack, continued Soviet emphasis on air defense remains something of a puzzle. This is the component of the U.S. and Soviet strategic force posture where there is the largest asymmetry. The United States began studying defensive measures against ICBMs in the mid-1950s. The Army developed the Nike-Zeus system, which was the forerunner of several ABM systems later considered for deployment, the Nike-X, Sentinel, and Safeguard. Although the Nike- Zeus system "worked" in a narrow technical sense, in that it could destroy one or a few nuclear warheads arriving at a low rate, it was judged incapable of handling a massive attack, especially given the devices to aid penetration that the Soviet Union would have been able to incorporate by the time the system was operational. For that reason, President Dwight Eisenhower refused to approve production and de- ployment of the system. The Johnson Years Despite Eisenhower's decision against early deployment of an ABM system, research and development continued on ballistic missile de- fenses. The Nike-Zeus system evolved into the Nike-X system, which included a new high-performance short-range interceptor, phased-ar- ray radars to replace mechanically steered radars, and more advanced data processing. Nike-X promised substantially higher performance
138 NUCLEAR ARMS CONTROL than the Nike-Zeus, but it too remained only a development program. The anticipated penetration technology and destructive powers of nu- clear warheads were too much for the system to handle. The Soviet Union also continued its vigorous program of research and develop- ment, and in 1964 it paraded a large ABM interceptor missile in Moscow. By 1964, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara began to argue that stability in the strategic relationship between the United States and the Soviet Union should rest on a capability of "assured destruction." That is, the United States should be able to destroy a large fraction of Soviet cities and industry after absorbing an all-out Soviet first strike. It was recognized that the Soviet Union would inevitably match this capability, given the inherent destructive power of nuclear weapons. According to McNamara, each side would be deterred from launching a nuclear attack if it was certain that the opposing side would have, even after an attack, a retaliatory force that could deliver unacceptable dam- age to the attacker's society. In 1966 the Army and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, supported by a growing congressional interest in ABM defense, attempted to obtain production authority for the Nike-X system. Those opposed to ABM deployment argued that the Soviet Union would respond to the potential degrada- tion of its ability to threaten U.S. urban targets by increasing its offen- sive forces or resorting to various countermeasures. Either of these responses would be much less costly than the U.S. defensive systems. Secretary McNamara argued that the best way for the United States to penetrate future Soviet ABM defenses would be to upgrade U.S. offen- sive forces by deploying the new Poseidon and Minuteman ITI missiles with multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles (MIRVs), which were then under development in the United States. The previous plan had been to equip missiles with penetration aids, such as chaff and decoys. While there might be some element of doubt as to whether such penetration aids would be effective, there was no doubt that a heavy MIRV attack would overwhelm the type of defense then technically feasible. Military proponents of the U.S. deployment argued that the deploy- ment of an ABM system around Moscow strongly suggested that Soviet strategy was based on developing a strategic nuclear force with a capa- bility beyond that required for assured destruction. They also argued that the Soviet Union would not be able to afford the arms race that McNamara had stated would ensue from an ABM deployment by the United States. Even if the Soviet Union attempted such an arms race, they claimed, the United States could stay ahead if it took the initiative on the ABM deployment.
STRATEGIC DEFENSIVE ARMS CONTROL 139 When President Lyndon Johnson appeared to be leaning towards de- veloping an ABM system, largely in response to congressional pressure to match the Soviet deployments, Secretary McNamara offered a com- promise. It involved including the production and procurement money for an ABM system in the budget but withholding the funds pending efforts to explore ABM limitations with the Soviet Union. If stability relied on assured destruction, which defensive deployments might be perceived to threaten, then arms limitations on these systems became an essential part of the stability equation. President Johnson agreed to the compromise, and the strategic arms limitation process was set in motion. In his January 1967 budget message, President Johnson called for intensive development of the Nike-X system but stated that he would "take no action now" if the Soviet Union was willing to begin negotia- tions on mutual limitations on ABM systems. Soviet Premier ATexei Kosygin stated in response to a letter from President Johnson in March 1967 that he agreed to bilateral discussions, but that the discussions should be on "means of limiting the arms race in offensive and defensive nuclear missiles." Shortly afterward, the two governments announced that they agreed in principle to begin discussions on both offensive and defensive systems, at an unspecified future date. When President John- son and Premier Kosygin met at Glassboro, New Jersey, in June 1967, the United States again tried to establish a timetable for negotiations. Despite Johnson's and McNamara's arguments about the need to con- strain defensive systems and about the link between defensive systems and an accelerating offensive arms race, Kosygin still appeared reTuc- tant to limit defensive systems. With President Johnson unable to move the Soviet Union to the nego- tiating table and unable to withstand congressional pressure for ABM deployment, Secretary McNamara announced on September 8, 1967, the decision to deploy the Sentinel ABM system. The Sentinel ABM was described as a limited or "thin" system oriented primarily toward de- fending the U.S. population against a potential Chinese missile attack in the 1970s and against an accidental launch. The announcement came at the end of a long speech that focused largely on the infeasibility of a "thick" ABM system designed to protect U.S. cities against an all- out Soviet attack. McNamara emphasized that a nationwide ABM sys- tem would be very expensive and would only accelerate the arms race. The speech marked the beginning of an unprecedented public debate over U.S. strategic doctrine that did not subside until the signing of the SALT ~ ABM Treaty in 1972. Nine months after the United States announced its decision to deploy the Sentinel system, the Soviet Union indicated that it was willing to
140 NUCLEAR ARMS CONTROL proceed with negotiations on strategic arms limitations. On July 1, 196S, at the signing of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, President Johnson announced that the United States and the Soviet Union had agreed to enter "in the nearest future" into discussions on the limitation and reduction of both offensive and defensive strategic weapons. A joint U.S.-Soviet announcement that the talks would start on September 30, 196S, was scheduled for August 21, 1968. But when the Soviet Union invaded Czechoslovakia on the day of the announcement, August 21, the United States postponed the talks indefinitely. In November 1969 the Soviet Union tried to reestablish contact and accepted the objectives proposed earlier by the United States. Despite the Soviet interest and President Johnson's personal efforts, until the final days of his term, to revive the talks, he was unable as a lame duck president to commit his successor to a resumption of the talks. The Nixon Years: ABM and SALT The approval ofthe Sentinel system, combined with the collapse ofthe scheduled arms talks, aroused unexpectedly intense public opposition to the deployment of ABM interceptor missiles armed with nuclear warheads outside major cities. In response to the growing criticism of the Sentinel system and another Soviet offer to begin arms control negotiations, the new Nixon Administration announced in February 1969 a temporary one-month halt to the deployment of Sentinel pend- ing a review of U.S. strategic policy. This action was in sharp contrast to candidate Nixon's criticisms of arms control and calls for nuclear super- iority during the 1968 presidential campaign. The Nixon Administration declared a doctrine of strategic "suffi- ciency" as the basis for its review of U.S. strategic forces. This doctrine set forth the following criteria: maintenance of an effective strategic retaliatory capability to deter surprise attack by any nation against the United States; preservation of stability by reducing the vulnerability of U.S. strategic forces and thereby minimizing the Soviet Union's incen- tive to strike first in a crisis; prevention of a strategic relationship that would permit the Soviet Union to inflict significantly more damage on the U.S. population and industry than U.S. forces could inflict on the Soviet Union in retaliation; and defense of the United States against small-scale nuclear attacks or accidental launches. Referring to these criteria, President Nixon announced in mid-March 1969 the decision to deploy the Safeguard ABM system. This system employed the same technical components as the Sentinel system, but its new primary mission was to protect some Minuteman ICBMs, some
STRATEGIC DEFENSIVE ARMS CONTROL 141 Strategic Air Command bases, and the National Command Center in Washington against a possible preemptive counterforce attack by the Soviet Union. Defense of the population against a small Chinese attack was retained as a secondary mission. Thus, the Nixon Administration concluded, as had the Johnson Administration, that nationwide ABM systems using available technology could not protect the U.S. popula- tion from a heavy attack. The Safeguard system, like the previous Sentinel system, consisted of three main subsystems: radars, missiles, and computers. The perimeter acquisition radar (PAR) detected and predicted the trajectory of an incoming warhead while it was still several thousand miles from its target. The missile site radar, which was responsible for battle manage- ment, took over the tracking of the incoming missile from the PAR and guided the defending missiles to the point of intercept. In a period of about 10 to 20 minutes, computers would have to interpret the radar signals, identify potential targets, distinguish between warheads and decoys, eliminate false targets, track incoming objects, predict trajecto- ries, allocate and guide interceptor missiles, and aim and detonate in- terceptor missiles when they got within range of a target. All of this would have to be accomplished in a very hostile environment involving radar blackout from offensive and defensive nuclear explosions as well as enemy countermeasures. The system employed two nuclear intercep- tor missiles: the Spartan, with a multimegaton warhead; and the Sprint, with a relatively small (few kiloton) enhanced-radiation war- head. The Spartan, with a range of several hundred kilometers, was designed to intercept warheads outside the atmosphere, where its high yield would permit misses of substantial distance. The Sprint, with a range of 40 km and a very high acceleration, was designed to intercept missiles at low altitudes after chaff and light decoys had been stripped away by the atmosphere. The Nixon Administration's decision to go ahead with Safeguard in- tensif~ed public and congressional debate. The administration argued that the Safeguard system was necessary because of the Soviet develop- ment of the ABM system around Moscow and the growth of the Soviet strategic offensive arsenal. Moreover, the Safeguard deployment was not provocative and would not induce a Soviet response large enough to upset the strategic balance, since Safeguard was primarily a limited defense of strategic forces, not cities. Finally, the administration argued that the funding of the Safeguard program would induce the Soviet Union to negotiate ABM limitations. Many members ofthe scientific community joined the ABM debate. In general, they argued against the decision to deploy the Safeguard sys-
142 NUCLEAR ARMS CONTROL tem, as they had against the proposed earlier Sentinel system. They argued that the system was unlikely to perform according to specifica- tions against a real attack. The radars, missiles, and computers in the system were at the limits of existing technology, and extraordinary coordination would be required among those subsystems with a very short reaction time in the poorly understood environment induced by multiple nuclear explosions. Scientists also argued that Soviet ballistic missiles could easily penetrate the Safeguard system by a variety of tactics or overwhelm it by sheer numbers. The weakest links in the system were the few soft radars on which the system completely de- pended. These radars would be highly vulnerable to nuclear attack. In addition, measures to confuse the system, such as decoys, chaff, and jamming, and measures to blind the radars, such as nuclear blackout, would be particularly effective at high altitudes. At lower altitudes, incoming missiles could use several effective tactics to escape destruc- tion, especially when targeted against cities and other targets. With all these options, it was argued, the attacker could confidently overcome the system at a much lower cost than that of the defensive system itself. With regard to its mission, there was almost unanimous agreement that Safeguard, both in its proposed deployment or in an expanded future configuration, could not defend the U.S. population against a heavy Soviet attack. The only mission for which a Safeguard-type ABM system might have significant capability would be to defend the hard- ened U.S. ICBM force, which at that time was not threatened by Soviet ICBMs. Even if this threat developed, detractors argued, it was by no means clear that an ABM system would be the right response since there were alternative, less costly ways of maintaining the survivabil- ity of the land-based leg of the triad if this were in fact necessary. In any case, the Safeguard system as proposed could not be counted on to con- tribute much because its large soft radars were themselves extremely vulnerable to attack. Scientists who opposed the Safeguard deployments also argued that there was no escape from the strategy of mutual deterrence, which relied on the certainty of being able to deliver a crippling retaliatory blow.- Any of the proposed ABM systems would probably have little effectiveness in actual combat, they argued. However, the greater un- certainty over what constituted a secure deterrent would force an inten- sif~ed arms race at higher and more destructive levels. Upgrading the ABM system would cost much more than implementing effective offen- sive countermeasures, including the deployment of more reentry vehi- cles. The U.S. decision to develop MIRVs, which was in large part a response to the Soviet Moscow ABM deployment, illustrated dramati-
STRATEGIC DEFENSIVE ARMS CONTROL 143 cally how improved defenses could stimulate increases in offensive arms. The administration barely won approval for the first phase of the Safeguard system with a 51 to 50 tie-breaking vote in August 1969. In October 1969, as both superpowers faced the prospects of costly defen- sive deployments that might lead to an even more costly race in offen- sive strategic arms, the United States and the Soviet Union agreed to begin the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks on November 17, 1969. The U.S. position in the SALT ~ negotiations was that the agreements had to limit both offensive and defensive forces and that any limits had to be verifiable. In the first year and a half of negotiations, the parties were able to reach an agreement on ABM limitations but were unable to reach a comprehensive agreement on offensive systems. The Soviet Union then sought to restrict the negotiations to anti-ballistic missile systems and to defer limits on offensive systems. The United States held that to limit ABM systems but allow the unrestricted growth of strate- gic offensive systems would be incompatible with the basic objectives of SALT and that it was essential to take first steps in the control of offensive strategic arms. The long deadlock was finally broken when it was agreed to conclude a permanent treaty limiting ABM systems and to agree separately to certain interim limitations on offensive systems while continuing negotiations to achieve a more comprehensive, long- term treaty on offensive strategic arms. On May 26, 1972, Presidents Nixon and Brezhnev signed the SALT ~ ABM Treaty of unlimited dura- tion and the five-year Interim Agreement on Strategic Offensive Arms. In the ABM Treaty the United States and the Soviet Union agreed not to deploy ABM systems for national or regional defense. Within this broad constraint, the sides agreed that each would have only two ABM deployment areas (later amended to one). Precise quantitative and qualitative limits were imposed on the ABM systems that could be deployed, along with restraints on radars and interceptor missiles. The treaty specifically prohibited the development, testing, or deployment of sea-, air-, space-, or mobile land-based ABM systems and their compo- nents, since such systems might provide the base for a nationwide de- tenses The treaty contained extensive provisions, paralleling those in the SALT ~ Interim Agreement, to facilitate its verification by National Technical Means (NTM), which included the satellite reconnaissance systems of both sides. These provisions included bans on interference with these systems and on deliberate concealment measures to impede verification by NTM. The treaty also provided for a U.S.-Soviet Stand- ing Consultative Commission to deal with compliance questions and to promote the implementation of the treaty.
144 NUCLEAR ARMS CONTROL The signing of the SALT ~ ABM Treaty formalized the mutual recogni- tion that deterrence based on the assured destruction of an attacker's society was the basis of security in the nuclear age. The treaty also signified the two sides' agreement that effective measures to limit bal- listic missile defense systems would help curb the ongoing strategic offensive arms race and decrease the risk of nuclear war. The U.S. Senate demonstrated the broad consensus that had evolved on these difficult and emotional issues by voting SS to 2 to advise ratifi- cation. On July 3, 1974, Presidents Nixon and Brezhnev signed a proto- coT to the SALT ~ ABM Treaty that limited each side to a single site instead of the two sites permitted in the original treaty. By 1975 the United States had deactivated the one Safeguard installation it had built at Grand Forks, North Dakota, because it was judged to have little military utility by itself. Throughout the 1970s, both sides continued significant research on ballistic missile defense technology within the constraints of the treaty. At the same time, both the United States and Soviet Union began to improve the counterforce capabilities of their missile forces, thereby making active defense of ICBM silos a more relevant consideration. This turned the U.S. research and development program for ballistic missile defense increasingly toward the problem of hard-point defense of silos. This was inherently a much simpler technical problem than the defense of populations. Since only a very small area had to be defended, intercepts could be made at Tow altitudes, and relatively high leakage rates were acceptable given the low value of individual targets. Despite these research activities, there was little pressure to revise the treaty. The communique released at the end of the first scheduled review con- ference stated: "The parties agree that the treaty is operating effec- tively, . . . serves the security interests of both parties, decreases the risk of the outbreak of nuclear war, facilitates progress in the further limitation and reduction of strategic offensive arms, and requires no amendment at this time." The Strategic Defense Initiative In the early 1980s the issue of ballistic missile deployment and the future of the ABM Treaty once again became a major security issue. Efforts to develop a survivable mode for the deployment of the MX missile focused renewed attention on the potential of ABM systems for last-ditch, hard-point defense. Hard-point defense was considered as a possible supplement to the racetrack deployment proposed by the Carter Administration, and it appeared that the MX "dense pack" bas-
STRATEGIC DEFENSIVE ARMS CONTROL 145 ing mode proposed in the early stages of the Reagan Administration might involve a hard-point defense component. The early Reagan Ad- ministration defense budgets substantially increased research and de- velopment for hard-point defense systems, which had continued after the ABM Treaty and the demise of the Safeguard system. The joint communique of the 1982 ABM review conference, while ensuring con- tinuation of the treaty, signaled less enthusiasm for the treaty than at the conference five years before. In the summer of 1982, Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger added to the speculation over the future role of ballistic missile defense when he announced the administra- tion's underlying strategic concepts. These indicated the possibility of an increased focus on ballistic missile defense. On March 23, 1983, President Reagan reopened the ABM debate on the national level in a major address referred to as the "Star Wars" speech. He called for a major technological effort to develop a defense against strategic nuclear missiles that would eventually make nuclear weapons "impotent and obsolete." He stated that, consistent with the obligations of the ABM Treaty, he was instigating a "comprehensive and intensive effort to define a Tong-term research and development program to begin to achieve our ultimate goal of eliminating the threat posed by strategic nuclear missiles." He called upon the scientific com- munity to use their talents to find ways "to intercept and destroy strate- gic ballistic missiles before they reached our own soil or that of our allies." Shortly after the President's speech, Secretary of Defense Wein- berger stated in a news conference that he was confident that American science could achieve a total defense of the United States. The Soviet reaction to the President's speech was immediate and ex- tremely critical. Soviet President Yuri Andropov stated, "At first glance this may seem attractive to uninformed people.... In fact, the development and improvement ofthe U.S. strategic offensive forces will continue at full speed and in a very specific direction that of acquiring the potential to deliver a nuclear first strike." The Soviet President went on to unveil a new arms control proposal to prevent an arms race in space. In testimony on the Strategic Defense Initiative program for fiscal year 1985 that was to implement the President's proposal, administra- tion officials were less clear about whether the program was to be di- rected specifically at a nationwide defense effort. They suggested that although the purpose of the Strategic Defense Initiative was to assess technologies for a highly effective, multitiered defensive system, inter- mediate versions of a less comprehensive ballistic missile defense might be useful in assuring the survival of the U.S. deterrent force.
146 NUCLEAR ARMS CONTROL Administration officials also said that a definitive statement of the goals of the program could only be made after an initial research effort. To determine the technical feasibility of the President's Tong-term goal, the Defense Department formed two study groups of scientists and national security experts. Their reports formed the basis for the pro- posed Strategic Defense Initiative in fiscal year 1985. One of the study groups, the Defensive Technologies Study, concluded that emerging technologies held substantial promise. It recommended a Tong-term research and development program to develop options that could guide future decisions concerning ballistic missile defense. The Strategic Defense Initiative, which emerged from these studies, is designed to explore the feasibility of a multitiered system that could engage ballistic missiles and warheads along their entire trajectories, including the boost, post-boost, mid-course, reentry, and terminal phases. Funding for fiscal year 1985 is $1.74 billion (~S percent from the Department of Defense, 12 percent from the Department of Energy), which is to be focused on five technologies that have been determined to offer the greatest promise for ballistic missile defense. The 1985 request also includes an additional funding increment of about $250 million to augment these technologies and exploit other new technological oppor- tunities. For the five-year period 1985-89, an estimated $24 billion will be required. One purpose of the program is to demonstrate at an early time key technologies needed for a highly effective, multitiered, low-leakage bal- listic missile defense that could prevent all but a small fraction of the attacking force from reaching targets. The knowledge gained from these demonstrations would support a decision in the early 1990s on whether to proceed with deployment. The administration has empha- sized that since the program is a research and technology effort, it can be carried out for the next several years within existing treaty con- straints. The proposed Strategic Defense Initiative has been divided into five technical areas: (1) surveillance, tracking, and acquisition; (2) directed energy weapons; (3) kinetic energy weapons; (4) systems analysis and battle management; and (5) support programs. The largest amount of research dollars will be used to attack perhaps the most challenging problem for the system: surveillance, tracking, and acquisition. In the directed energy weapons program, four basic technologies have been identified as potentially capable of countering an enemy attack: space-based chemical lasers, ground-based chemical lasers, space- based particle beams, and directed energy from nuclear explosions. The
STRATEGIC DEFENSIVE ARMS CONTROL 147 goal of the directed energy program is to bring the most promising of these concepts, which might be used against missiles in the boost and post-boost phases, to technical maturity in the 1990s. Among the tech- nologies to be examined are excimer short-wavelength lasers, free elec- tron lasers, neutral particle beams, and lasers pumped by nuclear explosions. A major effort will also be directed at development of kinetic energy projectiles. These projectiles collide at extremely high velocities with warheads or with post-boost vehicles that have not dispensed all oftheir reentry vehicles. Kinetic energy weapons may also engage reentry ve- hicles that reach the terminal phase of their flight. The Strategic Defense Initiative, as proposed by the President and developed in the fiscal year 1985 budget, has stirred considerable oppo- sition, both domestically and abroad. Once again important members of the scientific community have questioned the technical prospects of the program and emphasized the tremendous cost of such systems. Much of the criticism echoes the earlier criticisms of previous ABM approaches, namely, that the proposed defensive systems are fundamentally unable to defend successfully against a large number of extremely destructive nuclear weapons, and that the proposed defensive systems could be countered at much less cost by the offense. In addition, critics argue that these systems, whatever their actual capabilities, would have a very destabilizing effect on the strategic relationship and would accelerate the offensive arms race. Although the technology has changed, the fundamental criticisms are very similar to those in the early debates over the Nike-Zeus, Nike-X, Sentinel, and Safeguard systems. A significant new element of the 1980s debate is the impact of the Strategic Defense Initiative on the SALT ~ ABM Treaty, which is the cornerstone ofthe arms control process. Although the Reagan Adminis- tration has asserted that its immediate program is consistent with the ABM Treaty, critics point out that the program will inevitably collide with the treaty in only a few years if the administration pursues its stated goals. By the summer of 1984 it was clear that the Strategic Defense Initia- tive would be an issue in the presidential campaign. The Democratic platform attacked the Star Wars proposal in very strong language. It asserted that "our best scientists agree that an effective population defense is probably impossible" and that "this trillion-dollar program would provoke a dangerous offensive and defensive arms race." Candi- date Walter Mondale was on record as being strongly opposed to the program.
148 PROVISIONS OF TlIE SALT I ABM TREATY NUCLEAR ARMS CONTROL The SALT ~ ABM Treaty (Appendix C), which is of unlimited duration, obligates the United States and the Soviet Union not to deploy ABM systems for "defense of the territory of its country," not to provide a base for such a defense, and not to deploy ABM systems for defense of any individual regions except within the very restrictive limits defined in the treaty. The treaty originally provided that each side could have two ABM deployment areas, one to protect its capital and another to protect an ICBM launch area. This was subsequently amended in 1974 to allow each side to deploy ABMs at only one of those sites, whichever it chose. Precise quantitative and qualitative limits were imposed on the ABM system that may be deployed. At each site there could be no more than 100 interceptor missiles and 100 launchers. The number and character- istics of associated radars were specified in detail. Further deployment of radars to give early warning of a strategic ballistic missile attack were not prohibited, but such radars had to be located along the periph- ery of a nation's territory and oriented outward so that they could not also serve as battle management radars in an ABM defense of the Interior. Qualitative improvements of ABM technology were severely limited. For example, the parties agreed not to develop, test, or deploy ABM launchers capable of launching more than one interceptor missile at a time; existing launchers could also not be modified to give them this capability. Systems for rapid reload of launchers were similarly prohib- ited. These provisions, which were clarified by agreed statements, also banned interceptor missiles with more than one independently guided warhead. The treaty specifically prohibited development, testing, or deploy- ment of sea-, air-, space-, or mobile land-based ABM systems and their components, since these systems could provide the base for a nation- wide defense. Moreover, an agreed statement to the treaty made clear that if future technology produced ABM systems "based on other physi- cal principles and including components capable of substituting for ABM interceptor missiles, ABM launchers, or ABM radars," specific limitations on such systems would be developed to fulfill the treaty's basic obligation not to deploy nationwide ABM systems. The treaty also prohibited the upgrading of air defense systems to give them a capability against ICBMs and SEBMs. The treaty included provisions to facilitate its verification by Na- tional Technical Means (NTM), which include the two sides' satellite reconnaissance systems and other systems to collect technical intelli-
STRATEGIC DEFENSIVE ARMS CONTROL 149 gence. The treaty specifically banned interference with NTM used for verification and deliberate concealment measures that impeded verifi- cation of the treaty by NTM. The treaty also provided for a Standing Consultative Commission to consider compliance questions and other problems under the treaty as well as to develop additional procedures for its implementation. While the treaty is of unlimited duration, provisions were made for its review at five-year intervals. THE MAIN ISSUES SURROUNDING THE SALT I ABM TREATY Reopening the ABM Debate The central issue involving the 1972 SALT ~ ABM Treaty today is whether or not the United States should move toward a defense-ori- ented strategic policy involving a nationwide ballistic missile defense system. The ABM Treaty was specifically designed to prevent such systems. While President Reagan's proposed Strategic Defense Initia- tive is a research program that does not involve any immediate compli- ance issues under the ABM Treaty, the goal ofthe program is completely contrary to the treaty's fundamental obligation. Moreover, the initia- tive itself would appear to raise questions under the treaty in the not too distant future. Supporters of the Strategic Defense Initiative General Issues. Some supporters of the Strategic Defense Initiative see it as the first step in a program to achieve President Reagan's goal of a highly effective ballistic missile defense. Such a defense would permit the United States to move away from the present offense-oriented strat- egy based on the threat of retaliation to a defense-oriented strategy. Other supporters see it as a more modest technical development effort directed at strengthening the existing strategy of deterrence with a ballistic missile defense system. Both groups see the initiative as a timely response to several major developments that challenge the basic premises on which the SALT ABM Treaty was based. These developments include growing dissatis- faction with a strategic policy of deterrence based on the threat of retaTi- ation and mutually assured destruction, various scientific and technical developments that suggest the possibility of an effective bal- listic missile defense, and evidence of a major Soviet effort to develop a ballistic missile defense system as part of a broader defensive military
150 NUCLEAR ARMS CONTROL effort. Both groups argue that, if feasible, an effective defensive system would strengthen deterrence, increase stability, and reduce reliance on the present threat of assured destruction. Reassessment of the U. S. Offense-Dominated Strategy. In his March 23 speech, President Reagan stated that it was a sad commentary on the human condition that even with major arms reductions it would still be necessary to rely on the "specter of retaliation" for deterrence. He stated that current technology has attained a level of sophistication where it is reasonable to embark on a program to counter the Soviet missile threat with defensive measures. If successful, these measures would make these weapons "impotent and obsolete" so that people could live secure in the knowledge that their security did not rest upon the threat of U.S. retaliation to deter a Soviet attack, a policy that is not only morally repugnant but increasingly lacking in credibility. It is argued that a strategy that increases reliance on defensive systems would offer a new basis for managing the long-term relationship with the Soviet Union. Supporters of the initiative also emphasize that it is necessary to go beyond past strategic assumptions about deterrence. In today's strictly offense-dominated U.S.-Soviet confrontation, the continuing growth of the Soviet ballistic missile threat could force the United States to make ever more difficult improvements in its offensive forces to assure a survivable retaliation force. On the other hand, a new balance between offensive and defensive forces resulting from a ballistic missile defense could enhance deterrence against deliberate attack and provide greater safety against accidental use of nuclear weapons or unintended nuclear escalation. The extent to which these possibilities can be realized de- pends on how present uncertainties about technical feasibility, costs, and Soviet responses are resolved. Supporters of the initiative argue that a U.S. defense against ballistic missiles will enhance deterrence even in its early phases. It will reduce Soviet confidence in the success of a preemptive counterforce attack, since weapons could not be counted on to destroy high-priority strategic targets. Defenses could also protect critical U.S. command and control centers, which would increase the credibility of the U.S. deterrent and reduce the military utility of a preemptive attack. In addition, the U.S. effort could moderate the development of future offensive systems, ac- cording to supporters. A defensive system against ballistic missiles would not have to be completely leak-proofto attain these objectives and enhance deterrence. Supporters of the initiative also argue that U.S. research and development on ballistic missile defense might cause the
STRATEGIC DEFENSI VE ARMS CONTROL 151 Soviet Union to shift its emphasis from destabilizing ballistic missiles, with their short flight time, to air-breathing forces, which take much longer to reach targets, thus allowing more time for decision. The Soviet Union would also have to devote an increased portion of its research and development efforts to developing countermeasures and new types of delivery vehicles. Supporters of the initiative argue that deterrence would be enhanced not only by an advanced, Tow-leakage multitiered defense system but by intermediate versions of a ballistic missile defense system. Such inter- mediate systems could not provide the protection available from a com- plete multitiered system, but they could play a useful role in defeating limited attacks and deterring large attacks. A defensive system assur- ing the survival of a significant number of U.S. nuclear weapons would greatly add to the deterrence against Soviet attack. Emerging Technologies. The main reason for reconsidering ballistic missile defense at this time, according to most supporters of the Strate- gic Defense Initiative, is the emergence of technologies that may make an effective ballistic missile defense feasible. However, unless it under- takes a Tong-term research and development program, the United States will never be certain about the possibilities. At the time of the earlier ABM debate, the United States had no effective way of intercept- ing missiles during the boost phase, the means were not available to discriminate confidently between warheads and sophisticated decoys, computers could not manage thousands of simultaneous engagements, and the terminal defense with nuclear warheads at low altitudes in- volved unacceptable collateral damage to the defended area. Today, according to initiative supporters, directed energy systems such as high-powered chemical lasers, X-ray lasers pumped by nuclear explo- sions, particle beams, and "hypervelocity" kinetic energy weapons- appear to offer promising kill mechanisms against missiles in the boost phase. Precision sensors can make it possible to discriminate warheads from decoys, chaff, and debris. New computers and electronic advances make it possible to manage thousands of engagements simultaneously. And precision sensors permit "hit to kill" intercepts without requiring nuclear warheads. While acknowledging that it is not known today how effective and reliable such systems can be made, supporters of the ini- tiative assert that these new technologies, which have seen very rapid advances in recent years, provide a compelling rationale for reexamin- ing the technical issues associated with achieving an effective ballistic missile defense. The initiative's supporters argue that it will be extremely difficult to
152 NUCLEAR ARMS CONTROL design countermeasures against a multitiered defensive system be- cause components of the system will engage attacking missiles in all phases of their flight. The initiative calls for research into surveillance systems that would observe a potential target using infrared, visible, and radar radiation. A decoy, for example, might easily be constructed to simulate a warhead to a single sensor, but a decoy that could simulate real warheads to a variety of sensors would be almost as heavy and sophisticated as an actual warhead. The combination of different weap- ons and sensors in three or more layers would at the minimum drive an opponent to extremely expensive, and significantly less capable, mis- siles. Supporters of the initiative argue that this is a positive result in its own right. Such questions and options played a central role in deter- mining the recommended research and technology program. The Soviet Ballistic Missile Defense Program. One of the main rea- sons for the Strategic Defense Initiative cited by its supporters is the advanced state of the Soviet ballistic missile defense program. For a number of years the Soviet Union has been pursuing some of the new technologies that are now believed to hold promise for an effective de- fense. It is argued that unilateral Soviet deployment of an advanced ABM system, when added to the Soviet Union's already extensive air defense and civil defense programs, could sufficiently reduce U.S. retal- iatory capabilities to a point where the credibility of U.S. deterrence would be brought into question. Thus, the U.S. research effort will provide a necessary and vital hedge against the possibility of a one- sided Soviet deployment. Reagan Administration officials have testified that decisions on the deployment of defensive systems do not rest solely with the United States. Soviet history, doctrine, and programs including the active program to modernize the existing ABM defense around Moscow, which is the only operational ballistic missile defense in the world all indi- cate that the Soviet Union may deploy an ABM system when it deems that such a deployment would be advantageous, they argue. Since Tong- term Soviet behavior cannot be predicted reliably, the United States must be prepared to deploy its own ABM defense. A U.S. research and development program on ballistic missile defense that provides a vari- ety of deployment options will help resolve the many uncertainties the United States would now confront in making such a decision. Some administration officials have stated that the Soviet Union is as much as ten years ahead in certain aspects of high-technology ballistic missile defense systems. Among the worrisome Soviet programs is a very large research program on directed energy weapons, including
STRATEGIC DEFENSIVE ARMS CONTROL 153 chemical lasers that could be either ground- or space-based. Adminis- tration officials have estimated that Soviet space-based ABM systems could be tested in the 1990s, but that they will probably not be opera- tional until after the turn of the century. Officials have also noted that the Soviet capacity to launch payloads into space, although less sophis- ticated, is significantly greater than the U.S. capacity. In view of these ongoing Soviet programs, supporters ofthe Strategic Defense Initiative argue that an increased U.S effort to develop defense technologies should not intensify the Soviet effort since a very vigorous Soviet devel- opment program is already under way. Arms Control. According to some supporters of the Strategic De- fense Initiative, the premise of the SALT ~ ABM Treaty that limitations on ABM defenses would curb the growth in offensive arms has been disproven. The Soviet offensive buildup continued after the ABM Treaty. Some supporters also argue that the U.S. option to deploy an ABM system would increase U.S. leverage on the Soviet Union to agree to mutual reductions in offensive nuclear forces. In turn, such reduc- tions could reinforce the potential of defensive systems to stabilize de- terrence. The reductions that the United States has proposed in the START negotiations would be very effective in this regard. Critics of the Strategic Defense Initiative Critics of the President's Strategic Defense Initiative argue that it holds out a false and dangerous hope that effective nationwide defenses can be developed against nuclear weapons. In reality, nothing has hap- pened scientifically, technologically, militarily, or politically to change the underlying strategic reality codified in the SALT ~ ABM Treaty, they say. Attempts to develop nationwide defenses against ballistic missiles would still weaken deterrence and destabilize the military balance, increasing the likelihood of nuclear war. Consequently, despite its promise of a more humane and moral approach to strategic policy, President Reagan's proposal will actually lead to a more dangerous relationship with the Soviet Union and an increase in the arms race. Furthermore, within a relatively short time, critics point out, the Stra- tegic Defense Initiative will come into conflict with the provisions of the SALT ~ ABM Treaty and probably other arms control agreements as well. This could lead to the collapse of the entire arms control frame- work, the product of two decades of negotiations, Tong before work ever begins on an ABM system. At the same time, many critics agree that the United States should
154 NUCLEAR ARMS CONTROL pursue some research programs on defensive systems as a hedge against Soviet technological breakthroughs. They emphasize, however, that this research should be carefully limited to stay within the con- straints of the SALT ~ ABM Treaty. It should not be undertaken in the context of seeking a nationwide ballistic missile defense, which is clearly contrary to the underlying objective of the ABM Treaty. The Realities of Assured Destruction. The present offense-domi- nated strategy based on the prospect of assured retaliatory destruction is inherent in the millionfold increase in the power of nuclear weapons over conventional high explosives, the critics argue. This strategy is not the result of a policy choice or of a lack of determination to pursue defensive technology. Rather, the unprecedented power of nuclear weapons and the vast stockpiles of such weapons in the world put impos- sible technical demands on a defensive system to defend an inherently vulnerable urban society. Nuclear weapons have made the nuclear su- perpowers into mutual hostages. No matter how unpleasant this rela- tionship may be, it is a fact of life in the nuclear age. According to the initiative's critics, emerging advances in technology have not changed this fundamental situation. The Technical Infeasibility of a Nationwide Defense. Critics of the Strategic Defense Initiative emphasize that a nationwide defense must be extremely effective because any weapons that leaked through would destroy the target being defended. For example, if the United States were able to deploy a ballistic missile defense system that through remarkable improvements in defense technology was 95 percent effec- tive against the present Soviet threat, a Soviet attack could still deliver several hundred ICBM warheads on U.S. cities. Thus, any conceivable system would in practice almost certainly fail unless both sides first reduced their offensive forces to relatively Tow numbers. To overcome such a defense, the offense could concentrate its fire- power against targets of its choice while a national defense would have to protect all major urban areas. The offense could also increase the size of its attack by adding more missiles to its force or by increasing the number of MIRVed warheads on existing missiles. The apparent size of an attack can be increased by incorporating large numbers of decoys in the missile payload. The offense can conceal the location of attacking warheads from radar sensors with chaff and from infrared sensors with balloons or other devices. It can also try to blind defensive sensors with precursor nuclear explosions or employ,- a wide variety of unpredictable jamming techniques.
STRATEGIC DEFENSIVE ARMS CONTROL 155 The offense can also attack individual vulnerable components such as key radars or other sensors. In the case of satellite-based systems, this tactic can even be carried out in advance of hostilities, possibly without the knowledge of the defense. One such countermeasure could be to deploy space mines that would follow critical elements of the space defense system and detonate on command. Finally, the offense always has the option of simply circumventing the defense by introducing or emphasizing an entirely different mode of attack. These different at- tack modes could employ either ballistic missiles or air-breathing vehi- cles such as cruise missiles, which a defensive system oriented toward ballistic missiles would not cover. A separate air-breathing threat would have to be countered with an entirely different defensive system, which would be extremely complex and expensive. Moreover, such a system could still be overwhelmed by cruise missiles of advanced design that were equipped to facilitate penetration. Thus, whether the missile defense system is a space-based laser involving hundreds of satellites at a cost of many hundreds of billions of dollars or pop-up nuclear-pumped X-ray systems with mind-boggling technical requirements, the fact re- mains that a sophisticated offense has a vast array of techniques to overwhelm or circumvent these systems at much Tower cost. Some critics acknowledge that it would be technically possible to design a complex system to defend hardened redundant targets such as missile silos. In the case of missile silos a significant leakage is accept- able, since only a fraction of the silos need survive to constitute an effective deterrent. These critics question, however, whether such an expensive system would be cost effective compared with other ap- proaches to ensuring the survivability of deterrent forces. Moreover, they contend that, whatever its intended purpose, such a system would be perceived as an effort to achieve a nationwide defense and would have a serious destabilizing effect. It would certainly not be permitted under the SALT ~ ABM Treaty. In all of these cases, critics point out, the offense could negate at much lower cost whatever reduction in damage the defense might achieve simply by increasing its penetration capability. The Destabilizing Effects of Nationwide and Intermediate Defenses. The most important danger of a major national effort to achieve an effective ballistic missile defense, according to critics, is that it will be an unprecedented stimulant to the arms race. If the United States mounts a nationwide defense, the Soviet Union will quickly follow suit. The Soviet research and development program in this area is compara- ble with the U.S. program, and it is inconceivable that the Soviet Union
156 NUCLEAR ARMS CONTROL would surrender this area of strategic military development to the United States. In turn, the competition in offensive systems would ac- celerate as both sides deployed forces capable of penetrating anticipated future defensive systems. The decision to deploy MIRVed warheads on the Minuteman ITI and Poseidon missiles, which was sparked by the threat of a Soviet ballistic missile defense in the late 1960s, is the most impressive historical example of this action-reaction cycle. These critics also argue that a nationwide ABM defense, regardless of its actual effectiveness, would substantially decrease crisis stability. Such a system would inevitably be seen by the other side as part of an effort to achieve a first-strike capability. If the ABM system was, or was perceived to be, effective, it would permit the possessor to launch a preemptive counterforce attack confident that the other side's retalia- tion would not inflict unacceptable damage. Even if such a system did not appear capable of defending effectively against a full-scare, coordi- nated attack, it might be believed, or perceived, to be capable of effec- tively handling a reduced and poorly coordinated retaliation after a massive preemptive counterforce attack. In a major crisis that might escalate to nuclear war, critics argue that both sides would be under greatly increased pressure to preempt if either side had a nationwide ABM system. The situation would be most unstable if both sides had such systems. On both sides, the capabilities of each side's system would tend to be judged less than perfect by the knowledgeable possessors and exaggerated by the other side. Critics point out that this strategic situa- tion would create the maximum pressure for preemption in a crisis. The SovietBal1/istic Missile Defense Program. Critics ofthe Strategic Defense Initiative state that its advocates have overstated the magni- tude and significance of the Soviet ball istic missile defense effort. In any event, some critics continue, the magnitude of the Soviet effort is largely irrelevant to the U.S. decision on whether to undertake the initiative. Critics point out that the Soviet Union has traditionally invested considerably larger effort in air defenses than has the United States. Yet, despite the vast amounts invested in Soviet air defense, the U.S. Air Force is confident that it can penetrate these defenses using a variety of penetration tactics together with air-launched cruise mis- siles. Therefore, even if the Soviet program were as extensive as some claim, this does not mean that the United States should imitate such a cost-ineffective effort. According to critics of the initiative, most independent assessments conclude that the Soviet effort, while technically more advanced in some selected respects, is technologically considerably inferior in many
STRATEGIC DEFENSIVE ARMS CONTROL 157 respects to that of the United States. Soviet scientists are carrying out technologically advanced research on certain high-powered laser tech piques, but they appear to be behind in those techniques that the United States considers most promising. They have also shown interest in par- ticle beam work, but there is no evidence that such work has proceeded beyond the laboratory stage. It is true, critics acknowledge, that the old Soviet ABM deployment around Moscow is being replacer! by a system using more modern inter- ceptors and that the associated radars are being modernized. This is being done, however, without violating the ABM Treaty. In the ABM system permitted for Moscow, the number of interceptors would be totally inadequate to protect the city against a U.S. retaliatory strike. There is no reason to believe, according to these critics, that the Soviet Union has a near- or intermediate-term capability to deploy area de- fenses rapidly. In this regard, they note that even if the recently discov- ered Krasnoyarsk radar proves to be a violation of one of the provisions of the ABM Treaty, it would, when complete, add little, if anything, to a nationwide ballistic missile defense capability against a U.S. retaTia- tory strike. Like the other Soviet large phased-array radars, it is ex- tremely vulnerable to attack using a variety of precursor or defense suppression tactics. Thus, critics maintain that the present Soviet bal- listic missile defense effort is not even remotely a threat against the U.S. deterrent. Even if it were a legitimate source of concern, they emphasize, the appropriate response would be further improvements in offensive penetration at relatively low cost rather than imitation of the Soviet effort. Arms Control. Critics state that the Strategic~Defense Initiative will put the United States on a short-term collision course with the violation or termination of the SALT ~ ABM Treaty, the cornerstone of arms control efforts to date. Despite reassurances by the Reagan Administra- tion, they assert that the Strategic Defense Initiative will come into direct conflict with the the ABM Treaty in only a few years. At that time the United States would presumably withdraw from the treaty rather than operate in clear-cut violation of its provisions. In view of the lim- ited prospects for technical success or strategic stability from the pur- suit of defensive systems, these critics argue that termination of the ABM Treaty is an unacceptably high price to pay for this exploratory program. Critics of the Strategic Defense Initiative assert that it will actually accelerate the arms race and further undercut the arms control regime built over the past 20 years. In addition to the ABM Treaty, other arms
158 NUCLEAR ARMS CONTROL control casualties of the program could be the Outer Space Treaty, which prohibits the stationing of weapons of mass destruction in space, and the Limited Test Ban Treaty, which prohibits the testing of nuclear weapons in space. These treaties would certainly be incompatible with any serious efforts to pursue the technology of X-ray lasers pumped by nuclear explosions. Any hopes for negotiating a comprehensive test ban agreement or an anti-satellite accord would also be lost. In short, these critics argue, the Strategic Defense Initiative will lead to the destruc- tion of the entire arms control framework developed over the past two decades. - ~~ verification and Compliance Since the signing of the SALT ~ Treaty, the United States and the Soviet Union have raised a number of questions about the other side's compliance with the treaty (see Chapter 2 for a full discussion of these compliance issues). During the SALT I] ratification hearings the Carter Administration reported that all compliance questions relating to the SALT ~ ABM Treaty had been satisfactorily resolved when referred to the Standing Consultative Commission. On January 23, 1984, Presi- dent Reagan submitted a classified report to Congress entitled "Soviet Non-Compliance with Arms Control." In his transmittal message the President charged that the Soviet Union has almost certainly violated the ABM Treaty. The report stated that a new phased-array radar under construction near Krasnoyarsk in central Siberia "almost certainly constitutes a violation of legal obligations under the ABM Treaty of 1972 in that in its associated siting, orientation, and capability, it is prohibited by the Treaty." The Soviet Union has officially stated that the Krasnoyarsk radar is for space tracking, but the United States does not accept this explanation because of the radar's technical characteris- tics and location. For its part, the Soviet Union publicly released a diplomatic note on January 29, 1984, charging the United States with specific violations of the SALT ~ ABM Treaty. Among the charges were that the United States was developing both a mobile and space-based ABM system, was working on multiple warheads for ABM interceptors, was building and upgrading new large phased-array radars on its coasts (Pave Paws) that, despite their asserted early warning function, cover large areas of the United States and could serve as battle management radars for a future U.S. ABM system, and alas incorporating ABM capabilities in the intelligence radar on Shemya Island. The United States has re- jected all of these charges as being without technical or legal merit.