The United States is moving to deploy defensive missiles that could intercept and destroy ballistic missiles launched against the U.S. and its friends and allies. Although this deployment will be modest at first, said President George W. Bush, it “will add to America’s security and serve as a starting point for improved and expanded capabilities later, as further progress is made in researching and developing missile defense technologies.”
As the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001, made clear, the U.S. and its allies face unprecedented threats in a world that has changed greatly since the Cold War. The U.S. has developed new strategies for making its homeland more secure and for combating weapons of mass destruction. And as Mr. Bush stressed, the U.S. “will take every measure to protect [its] citizens against what is perhaps the gravest danger of all: the catastrophic harm that may result from hostile states or terrorist groups armed with weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them.”
As part of its new strategy, the U.S. has withdrawn from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and moved beyond the doctrine of Cold War deterrence. The U.S. has recognized the importance of missile defenses in deterring those who may contemplate ballistic missile attacks. At the same time, said President Bush, the U.S. has “established a positive relationship with Russia that includes partnership in counterterrorism and in other key areas of mutual concern.”
The U.S. plans to begin operating its initial missile defenses in 2004 and 2005. The system will include interceptor missiles based on the ground and at sea, and missile sensors based on land, at sea, and in space.
The U.S. will develop and deploy missile defenses capable of protecting not only the U.S. and its forces, but also its friends and allies. The U.S. will also structure its missile defense program in a manner that encourages industrial participation by other nations. And as part of its initial deployment, the U.S. is seeking agreement from Britain and Denmark to upgrade early-warning radar systems on their territory.
As President Bush said, “The deployment of missile defenses is an essential element of [America’s] broader efforts to transform our defense policies and capabilities to meet the new threats we face.”