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Anti-Ballistic Missile Weapons? 356

Posted by Cliff
from the star-wars-redeux dept.
Rolan asks: "With the recent development of Anti-balistic Missile Technology, and it's obvious ability to be expanded to an Anti-Satelite/Spacecraft Weapon, I've begun to wonder what exactly happend to the treaties we made reguarding these weapons. Specificially I know that, during the cold war, we made treaties with the USSR that prohibit both parties from developing such weapons. Has the disolving of the USSR Nullified/Voided these treaties, or have we simply decided to froget them? Or is there actually a loop hole that alows these weapons? "
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Anti-Ballistic Missile Weapons?

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  • There's a laser-ish (not sure what wavelength) based device mounted on top of the volcano on the island of Maui (its over 10,000 feet high). It does not officially exist, but ask anybody that works in the area...

    Anti missle devices don't have any point for full scale nuclear wars (you have too many targets in too many places and too little accuracy; the earth is climate toast at that point). However they could be useful in stopping a single rogue or errant launch. The problem being since the device doesn't exist, neither does the thing the non existent device didn't shoot at so nobody could be told because obviously nothing happened to no missle by no friggin' laser.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Scuds most certainly were not built during world war II. The only missile technology at that time were the German V2 missiles. The scud was a north korean (iirc) adaptation of a russion design from the fifties. Which doesn't mean the things were built in the fifties, nor dows it mean the design wasn't improved since the fifties.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    As it stands no country, that I am aware of, currently has the capability to "shoot down" a missle of any type with any viable accuracy. The only defense to missle attack at this point is a missle which detonates in close proximity to the inbound missle showering it with shrapnel, thus disabling the inbound missle.

    The folks at Lockheed Martin [lmco.com] are working on something called the Airborne Laser [airbornelaser.com]. It uses a very intense beam of light to shoot down missiles from inside a 747. It has a range of somewhere around 400 km, I believe.

    Very, very cool stuff.

    ---
    chahast at pangaea dot dhs dot org

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I think you should rewatch Dr Strangelove sometimes. It's a pretty good movie, you know. And it demonstrates that the assumptions about deterrent weapons and distinctions between offensive and defensive weapons are just plain naive. The people who decide to build massive destruction warfare just don't know how/why/when these weapons are to be used. They only think of one type of scenario where rational people will use them. The fact is such weapons pose a great danger to humanity as a whole. Not only that, but a democratic country like the US voiding an international treaty places a precedent where other not so rational countries (think Taiwan and China, Pakistan and India) will engulf. I remember the turmoil created by France decision to develop "one last series of real-life tests" (as opposed to simulation) of nuclear weapons back when Slashdot was in its infancy. Have we forgot the reasons why we blamed France then?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    It doesn't really matter what the status is on the treaties made between the US and USSR. The United States doesn't actually honour its promises unless it has the most to gain anyway.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    The Russian federation has assumed responsibility for all contracts and treaties held by the former USSR. If they hadn't the whole Eastern European economy would have collapsed, probably taking with it most of the world's economy. In any case, treaties are not null and void simply because a party no longer exists, of course the real issue (with all treaties) is one of enforcement and oversight.
  • Seriously, I've got $20,000 in confederate money?

    Sorry but when governments go, they're gone- along with any promises they made. The new gov't might say they'll carry out the old agreements, but that's by their own graciousness, and they're by no means bound to those old agreements.

    BTW, I've got some DIVX discs that I PAID to have permanently enabled. I've got my contract! It's valid forever right? With whoever takes over the DIVX consortium or buys up the pieces right?

    Uh huh. Yah whatever.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    The ABM treaties prohibited protecting your ICBMs (as has been mentioned); they did not prohibit protecting populations. The USSR deployed an ABM system years ago. It was simple coincidence that they put ICBMs near population centers...

    The SALT-II agreements were never ratified by Congress (and thus, have no legal standing), but they have been honored by both sides.

    Technically, there was no 'fall' of the USSR. They simplly modified their form of government. So all the previous agreements are still in force.

    I'm not particularly concerned by the Russian outcry. During the Cold War, they would always insist on banning nuclear testing after they had finished their tests. They're probably just concerned that we're ahead.

    In all of these discussions it helps to remember a simple historical fact. At one time, the United Sates was the only nuclear power in the world. This power put us in a unique position to dictate a new world order. We chose not to.

    Who do you serve? Who do you trust?

  • The US picked Grand Forks North Dakota for the ABM site. IIRC the Sprint missiles there were the fastest acclerating missiles ever built, even today nothing can out accelerate them, they looked like a huge golf tee.
  • That's not the only reason. ABMs undermine the psychology of deterrance, which was the motor behind much of the Cold War. Neither side could afford for the other to *potentially* develop an ABM system better than theirs.
  • Well, they still do have nukes, and more importantly they have the expertise and infrastructure to produce more. They also have a veto on the Security Council, a tremendous amount of oil, and a large standing army. While some, like Jesse Helms would be more than happy to take the chance of pissing off Russia. I don't think it's a very attractive policy on the whole.
    --
  • A normal ABM defense would not protect against cruise missiles, which fly relatively short distances close to the ground. The B in ABM stands for Ballistic, as in ICBM (Intercontinental Ballistic Missile). Such missiles travel a long distance in a high altitude predicable path, and hence are much easier to track and shoot down. They may, however have many separately targetable warheads, so anti ICBM defense is by no means easy.
    --
  • Enter crowd control.

    If a politions starts telling the horde (as in people... unfathomable millions of them...) that the government just screwed something up, well, then that politician wouldn't be doing his job.

    The purpose of the government is to get people to believe that the purpose of the government is righteos and just. That they exist for the people, that their entire intention is to help YOU, and try to both pass off all of their actions as this and create other actions to show YOU that they are doing this.

    And then someone in the back says, "But we're in a Democracy! We ARE the governemnt." Bullshit. All the President/Congress/Court can do is change the preferences. They clean up. Dont ask me whos in charge. I dont know whos in charge. Most likely nobody. Only one person, nobody, could control something so riduculous and frivolous as a government such as ours.

    So who is in charge? Most likely a priciple. Some guideline that is subconsiosly ingrained into politicians so that they believe that they are serving their country by appeasing populaces with laws that support the majority morals and wars that defend all that the US represents.

    Communism? Baaaaad. Why? Because there has to be an enemy. Serbia? Baaaaad. Why? Because there has to be an enemy. Drugs? Baaaaaad. Why? Because there has to be an enemy.

    So the question begs, "What happened to our Anti-Ballistic Missle Weapons treaties?" Who knows? Who cares? Obviously not the media or government. Not our enemies, not space aliens, not the Jews, not the Mafia. Who cares? People. Who cares about people? I dont know.
  • Regarding the first event described in Australia:

    A meteor's observed speed depends on it's speed relative to the earth. If it is travelling at a slightly different speed, and is being overtaken, or is overtaking, the earth, in a similar orbit, a very horizontal, "slow" flight path could be observed.

    The explosion that is described seems consistent with something similar to the Tunguska event.
  • Yeah, but LEO is where most of the spy satellites are.

    Of course, you're not going to pick off some of the most important birds with that missle, because they're in Geosync.

    What you'd need is a really big laser. They'd be easy to hit because they dont' move relative to the ground.

  • I did a bit of research on Star Wars (the Regan version not the Speilberg version) back in '87 for of all things a college english research paper. What I found was that:

    1 - It's very difficult to make a good anti-missle missle (or device - remember the plan for the giant accelerator in Texas?) since the Soviets could easily make missles that are tough, reflective and travel in erratic paths.

    2 - Any SDI (Strategic Defense Initiative) device that actually worked after a couple rounds of Soviet improvements i.e. reactions to US SDI devices would be much better offensive weapons than defensive missile killers.

    Many speculate that this is why the Soviets were willing to agree to a treaty. Regan had a perfect situation - plenty of money for "defense" and a population mostly in support of _this_ defense program.

    I don't happen to think that the tests that are going on right now are nearly as significant as what went on in the '80s but I do think that most of these devices easily play a dual role. They happen to be very fast, powerful and precise weapons and the general public doesn't mind testing them or spending money on them. This is what pisses off the Russians.

    Who should be the second party to the START treaties now that there is no USSR? The Russian Moffia? They are more organized than anyone else...
  • You are probably thinking of the Air Force Maui Optical Station on Haleakala. They have lasers for a number of missions, see http://www.fas.org/spp/military/program/track/amos .htm [fas.org]. The presence of lasers does not mean they have anti-missile capabilities. It would be a useless location for that type of facility.
  • The North Dakota site is located in Nokoma, which is a bit northwest of Grand Forks. The site was open for exactly 1 day, then shut down due to the treaty. It's command center is a distinctive pyramid shaped building rising up on a notably flat prairie, surrounded by a ghost town, it's inards being basically ruined due to years of flooding and neglect.

  • scherry wrote:
    I am not aware of a treaty signed with the new Russian Republic that brings over all treaties that we have signed although I wouldn't put it past Clinton to have slipped such a thing in without going to the Senate for ratification.

    You aren't aware of much, then. First of all, just because a government changes, don't imagine that their obligations change. The Russian Federation is the inheritor of all the obligations of the USSR, including monetary debt, trade agreements, extradition treaties, and yes, arms treaties. Your silly kneejerk suspicions aside, Clinton can't just sign a new treaty with the Russians; it would have no legal force without Senate ratification (read your Constitution).

    I know that lots of the START treaty that we've subsequently signed was continued from negotiations with the USSR but those are new treaties for all intents and purposes.

    And, thanks to inviting Poland into NATO, the Russian Duma did not ratify START II. Therefore it has no force as a treaty. The Clinton and Yeltsin administrations are both observing it, as a matter of polite cooperation, but either side could abrogate it at any time.

    I could be wrong about the lack of said "continuance" treaty but barring its existence, and from my recollection the ABM treaty was specifically between the two powers and not a general non-proliferation treaty like nuclear testing. That said, the ABM treaty is effectively dead.

    As noted, no such magical "continuance" treaty is needed; the treaty would be considered to be in force until a new agreement is reached. The question of making it a general non-proliferation treaty came up at renewal time in 1993 and is part of the current tiff. It may be effectively dead, but there is still great weight in being the country to first break a treaty.

    If we don't deploy a system that makes successful delivery of such warheads unlikely, thus drastically increasing the risk that a launch would be intercepted inviting an overwhelming and potentially nuclear retaliation without the intended benifits, its not likely that we'll get out of the next decade without a missle being launched against a major power.

    I consider a much more likely scenario to be a regional nuclear conflict, such as Pakistan-India. In any case, whether we deploy an ABM system or not, it's doubtful that it could make "delivery of warheads unlikely". Even if it were an airtight missile defense (and predecessors like the Patriot system don't inspire confidence), the enemy could simply choose another delivery method, such as a Ryder truck.

    I don't consider this ABM system worth unilaterally pulling out of existing agreements, especially when it might lead to other negative consequences, like the Russians going back to targeting American cities and going on a hairtrigger nuke alert. What we really need is to find a way (START II would have been one way) to start dismantling nukes so that there aren't as many lying around Russia to steal. That should be our ultimate real world goal. In fact, this is approximately what the Clinton administration is proposing -- helping the Russians finish that Siberian radar facility, for instance.
    ----
    Lake Effect [wwa.com], a weblog
  • scherry wrote:
    I am not aware of a treaty signed with the new Russian Republic that brings over all treaties that we have signed although I wouldn't put it past Clinton to have slipped such a thing in without going to the Senate for ratification.

    You aren't aware of much, then. First of all, just because a government changes, don't imagine that their obligations change. The Russian Federation is the inheritor of all the obligations of the USSR, including monetary debt, trade agreements, extradition treaties, and yes, arms treaties. Your silly kneejerk suspicions aside, Clinton can't just sign a new treaty with the Russians; it would have no legal force without Senate ratification (read your Constitution).

    I know that lots of the START treaty that we've subsequently signed was continued from negotiations with the USSR but those are new treaties for all intents and purposes.

    And, thanks to inviting Poland into NATO, the Russian Duma did not ratify START II. Therefore it has no force as a treaty. The Clinton and Yeltsin administrations are both observing parts of it, as a matter of polite cooperation, but either side could abrogate it at any time.

    I could be wrong about the lack of said "continuance" treaty but barring its existence, and from my recollection the ABM treaty was specifically between the two powers and not a general non-proliferation treaty like nuclear testing. That said, the ABM treaty is effectively dead.

    As noted, no such magical "continuance" treaty is needed; the treaty would be considered to be in force until a new agreement is reached. The question of making it a general non-proliferation treaty came up at renewal time in 1993 and is part of the current tiff. It may be effectively dead, but there is still great weight in being the country to first break a treaty.

    If we don't deploy a system that makes successful delivery of such warheads unlikely, thus drastically increasing the risk that a launch would be intercepted inviting an overwhelming and potentially nuclear retaliation without the intended benifits, its not likely that we'll get out of the next decade without a missle being launched against a major power.

    I consider a much more likely scenario to be a regional nuclear conflict, such as Pakistan-India. In any case, whether we deploy an ABM system or not, it's doubtful that it could make "delivery of warheads unlikely". Even if it were an airtight missile defense (and predecessors like the Patriot system don't inspire confidence), the enemy could simply choose another delivery method, such as a Ryder truck.

    I don't consider this ABM system worth unilaterally pulling out of existing agreements, especially when it might lead to other negative consequences, like the Russians going back to targeting American cities and going on a hairtrigger nuke alert. What we really need is to find a way (START II would have been one way) to start dismantling nukes so that there aren't as many lying around Russia to steal. That should be our ultimate real world goal. In fact, this is approximately what the Clinton administration is proposing -- helping the Russians finish that Siberian radar facility, for instance.
    ----
    Lake Effect [wwa.com], a weblog
  • What about a mail campaign to our fine representatives in washington? Why not let them know that backing out of treaties like this is stupid! Not just email-writing, which we're all so good at, but physical mail and faxing. It costs a little more in effort and cash, but it's far more effective. (think about the poor student intern who get assigned to read/delete the rep's inbox!)

  • I haven't read the article, but there is another interesting article four those of you that understand Swedish: http://www.nyteknik.se/arki v99/99-42/99-42-plasma.shtml [nyteknik.se].

    A Swedish scientist, Erik Witalis, designed a weapon that he believes is used in the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) program. It shoots plasma pellets which starts a small nuclear fusion reaction when it hits the target missile.
  • I am not a bleeding heart. I am not an optimist. I am a realist. I agree with the sentiment you express which can be summarized as "The government does what it will, and occasionally attempts to convince the people otherwise."

    Your pessimism is, however, unfounded. The government does as it will because you, and every other ironic cynical fuck in this nation parroting your sentiment are too lazy and ignorant to get up off your collective asses and stop the government from doing so.

    The government, in actuality, is exercising exactly the majority will of the people -- unfortunately the will is apathetic and undirected. This is permission for the government to do whatever IT deems best. You got a complaint about how things are run? Fix them. I am.

  • Yeah, just ask any native american tribe about the US government's history at doing what it promises :)

    ---

  • ...and with that he utterly forgot what he was trying to say.

    Does anyone remember the AK47 ban? The law said guns could not be sold as AK47s. With that, along came the AK48s and the AK57s. In any law, there is a loophole. In this case, a loophole is defined as any action which violates the spirit of the law and not the wording.

    The US does this and continues to do this everyday. I don't see how this nation could function if the government didn't exploit holes in the law governing themselves.

    But, the problem is not the international laws we have made, the problem is that the US is intent on playing big-brother/mediator/faux protagonist in everything it does. I think this stems from the false notion that the US is the last great super-power. The truth is that countries govern themselves well or they fall to someone who does it better.

    So, dear Slashdotter, the US in doing dastardly deeds, indefinitly, and there's nothing you can do about it. Sorry.
  • BTW, I've got some DIVX discs that I PAID to have permanently enabled. I've got my contract! It's valid forever right? With whoever takes over the DIVX consortium or buys up the pieces right?

    I don't know, man...that last part kind of throws your sanity into question...

  • The Scud was developed AS a nuclear missle. Until it hits, you can't tell what warhead has been installed. You won't see anything special from it's flight profile.

    Uh, no. The Scud is little more than an upgraded V-2. It even uses carbon vanes for thrust vectoring. They were originally deployed by the Soviet army in the early 50s. Any nuclear weapon a modern Scud-using state could get their hands on would almost certainly be much too heavy for the scud to lift.

  • Polyus (I think that's right) was a Soviet orbital weapons platform they did indeed launch in the 1980s. Reportedly the booster carrying it up malfunctioned and it never reached orbit, but still, they tried breaking the treaty first.

    The story I've heard is that the Polyus station's final stage was mounted at the very top of the booster stack (one of the few Energya launches) above the Polyus itself, so the whole station had to perform a 180 degree turn before this final stage ignited. This turn did not take place, so when the station figured out something was wrong (ie: it wasn't going to make orbit) it's self-destruct system went off.

    Incedently, this was not the only soviet space station to have weapons on board. More then one Salyut station was fitted with a large canon. I don't know if any were ever fired, however.

  • > The thing is, the threat of MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) works great when you've got a small number of nations with nuclear weapons.

    In general, I agree with your post. However, one of the things that makes MAD truly mad is the possibility that some madman might get control of one nation or the other.

    A. Hitler would have undoubtedly released a nuclear barrage to go along with his "wagnerian" downfall, had he been able to do so. Even if only a few nations have the toys, what's to assue us that one of the nations won't come under the absolute control of a similarly uninhibited loonie?

    I reject the unilateral abrogation of treaties, but something has to be done about phasing out MAD.

    --
    It's October 6th. Where's W2K? Over the horizon again, eh?
  • ...is good point - and it did cross my mind while making the post. However, while I start to drift a bit in my discussion, I attempted to keep the focus on the delivery of these materials by ballistic missles. Alternate means of delivery should be covered by alternate means of detection/deterrence. I started to discuss that, but wanted to keep the post as on-topic as possible with my thoughts.

    The only defense is not peace. Peace is a wonderful, garguantuan step, but world-wide peace will never stop acts of terror and hate. There are simply too many people in this world with differing viewpoints. Most are valid - the problem comes when people fail to see the other side's view, and will break the rules of society (i.e., violence) to attempt to bring about the change. But that's another topic for another story...

    And to supplement the post a bit:

    After making the post, several others have replied that know far more in the way of details regarding the specifics of the treaties than I. The general consensus to Rolan's question is that yes, treaties exist that ban ABM weapons, but the Clinton Administration is currently negiotiating to change/withdraw from those. So in effect, they didn't care when the system was developed, but now that it exists, they're making a token effort.
  • Don't get up on your high horse here now..
    You should know that Russia, although totally
    wasted, can still pack a punch.
    What is the point of being victorious when
    40% of your population is killed?
    Besides, the US isn't excactly angels.
    The united states is just about the only regime
    left in the West, that _still_ has the death-penalty. The US violates an enormous amount
    of human-rights every year, and still thinks of
    itself as a "free country".
  • >Tell me where my logic breaks down.

    (1) If you were the president would you take a 50% chance that a major American city would be nuked more seriously than having one far-off dictator swallowing up another one? If you lived in a city and found out that the president took this risk with the life of you and your family, what would you think of him, even if you "lucked out"? What would happen if the people of the US found out there was a credible nuclear threat against a major US city coming from this guy, even if it had a 10% chance of succeeding?

    (2) If I were the said dictator, I'd quietly slip the nuke onto a container, blow it up in port at NYC, then run my invasion while the US was totally absorbed with rescue efforts.

    (3) Its plain stupid to even talk about defending against rogue states without a vigorous program to provide serious economic assistance to Russian nuclear experts. The current efforts are a total joke and should be a scandal.

    Just for kicks, imagine taking the money you'd spend on ABM, give every Russian nuclear specialist a pension that allows him to retire in incredibly lavish luxury. Which option gets you the most improved security for the buck?

    It should be clear this isn't about national security. It's about political posturing and corporate welfare.

  • Even though the former USSR is no longer considered a threat, they could re-target the US in a matter of minutes. Let's not forget the biggest threat - CHINA! Thanks to Slick Willie selling us out for campaign contributions, the Chinese can now target and strike locations on the west coast of the United States with nukes. Let's also not forget that we are bound under treaty with Taiwan to come to their rescue if anyone is to ever invade them - and China is poised to strike at any time.
  • Okay, here's the deal.
    The USSR does not want us to develop anti-ballistic missle technology. They consider it a violation of the treaty. However, we want to do it to "protect ourselves from rogue nations" such as North Korea, India, etc... which are currently developing ballistic missles. The USSR does doesn't care, and wants the treaties to stay in effect, but we are developing this technology anyway.
    So, what's happening now is the USSR is pissed off at us, and probably doesn't have the funds to develop their own anti-missle defense system, even though we are trying to convince them that everything is okay and they should develop one to protect themselves against these "rogue nations". They see it as a threat because now they can't attack the US as easily. So they are threatening to develop better missles that we can't defend against.

    This is pretty serious -- it's a little known fact that the USSR actually has the capacity to toally decimate our country, and still survive. They have an extensive network of underground nuclear shelters in their country.

    Anyway, rant mode off. I am getting tired of typing this as I am in "lynx" right now. =)

  • I agree that the US will eventually use the escape clause (or possibly convince Russia to renegotiate the treaty).

    I want to add that the necessity here is due to a variety of issues. I personally do not think that a nation state will openly attack the US anytime soon. As you stated one boomer could give _anyone_ a very bad day. But a terroist attach (probably state sponsered, but not openly) on the US with a CBN weapon in the future is possible.

    Ignoring for the moment that the best delivery of a terrorist weapon would probably be a boat with a faked manafest (we are talking terror, not maximum yield). ABM provide a _mental_ shield for our population and politicians.

    The problem is with our recently bizarre foreign relations. If I were a terrorist I would seriously doubt the US's resolve to respond with nuclear weapons given CBN attack. I personally don't know what the proper response would be.

    Given the situation where a (most certainly state sponsered) terrorist attach on the US with a CBN weapon occured. Our response would most certainly not be immediate. The fog and confusion during and immediately following the attack would prevent any reasoned response (and I hope we are smart enough to avoid an unreasoned response).

    Now image the moral delema of the country. One major population center has suffered significant casulties. The nations ire is at a near all time high. The responsible organization is eventually (say as quickly as a week). Now what to do...

    Premeditated murder of millions of innocent people to maintain MAD?

    Let it go?

    I don't have the answers, but I can see us spending a lot of money on ABM to make this (however slightly) less likely to happen in the future.
    My name is not spam, it's patrick
  • What a truly brilliant idea to deploy an ABM system despite the treaty explicitly forbidding it. Your Congress doesn't seem to believe there exists other people in the world, that may decide not to play ball. For example the Russian defence minister was heard saying: "If the USA deploys an ABM system, Russia will deploy space based nuclear weapons". What does that mean? It means that after you've spent a couple of trillion $ on a dinky ABM system capable of defending perhaps from a few warheads from say north korea or something similar, Russia will have nukes in orbit directly above your head. Guess how long it takes for it to fall down on you? 2 minutes perhaps, as opposed to about 20 minutes for an ICBM. Ok so probably the minister overreacted, but it's still not a very nice prospekt having nukes above your head is it? And which nation would be stupid enough to launch a nuclear attack on the USA anyway? Most Evil Dictators (tm) realize that with the push of a button, USA can turn their country into a piece of radioactive glass. So instead they would probably opt to smuggle in only the warhead, put it in a truck and having some fanatics drive it near the White House, chanting "Z'rdo K'af' Caosago Mosp'l'h T'loch, Z'rdo K'af' Caosago Mosp'l'h T'loch, N'gha Z'rdo Hoath Adphaht Affa p'lz'n, N'kai Z'rdo Hoath Nyarlathotep, Z'rdo ''-all ollog. Z'rdo ''-all ollog. Ia! Nyarlathotep Fhtagn N'gha n'gah ia thos N'kai!!!" and pressing the big red button. Kinda hard to defend against that with an ABM system, eh?
  • The only thing which will be accomplished by a national missile defence system is to piss off Russia. The reason is that any ABM system that the US can design would be trivial to counter, by one of many means; dummy warheads, chaff, and various other avoidance techniques. Given the pitiful rate of success of these missiles in trials (something like 2 hits in 18 attempts) it's really not going to be very useful. There was a good article on this in SciAm a while back, titled "Why anti-missile defence systems won't work". Had a damn fine article on Turing, too, but that's beside the point.
    NP
  • China, Russia probably have nucs in the US. Probably brought in via diplomatic pouch.
    If they did, our spooks would know it. The decay of U-235 and Pu-239 leaves a very distinctive radioactive signature, and the gamma rays can be detected at quite a distance. A diplomatic pouch will not have the shielding to mask them; even a suitcase isn't enough. From the scuttlebutt I've heard, maybe even a ship isn't enough. Suffice it to say, if there's a bomb "pit" smuggled into the USA, it's probably being closely monitored by the CIA.

    Who knows, maybe the bombing of the embassy in Belgrade was a hidden message to China that we can nail any smuggled nukes any time we want, and all the other fuss over it is just posturing. Besides, think of the amazing propaganda value of being able to parade a captured Chinese nuke in front of the UN. If we had that the executive would have an absolutely free hand in dealing with China, beginning with a complete trade blockade through expulsion from the UN up to and including a nuclear strike on Beijing. The price of that would be too high for China to pay, so you can be fairly sure they are keeping their bombs safely on their own soil. And Pyongyang... Kim Jong Il may be crazy, but he's not suicidal.

    This threat sounds a lot worse at first blush than it appears to be after careful analysis.
    --

  • You say pro-disarmament like it's a bad thing!
    Would you consider the use of faulty figures and outright lies to push a particular POV (even if it is pro-disarmament) to be a good thing, or even neutral?

    SciAm has been caught at this before; consider the notorious article by Kosta Tsipis (?) some years ago about space-based antimissile lasers where there was an error of 10^4 (yes, a factor of 10,000) in the calculations regarding the system capacity required. The article was published without correction (or maybe even checking) by the editors, and the letter correcting the errors was given nowhere near the prominence of the article itself.

    If disarmament is a good idea on the numbers, let the numbers do the talking. Using fraudulent numbers to push an agenda does not serve us; suppose that some aggressor saw through the fraudulent numbers, built a defense system based on the realities instead of the perceptions, and then hid behind its shield to blast us with impunity? What if we ignored this possibility because "it can't be done"? We'd pay an awful price. And that's why the propagandizing of Scientific American should be roundly condemned.
    --

  • Then, if by some miracle the system figures all this out, the enemy missile just explodes and scatters its insides at somewhere besides its target.
    Scattered materials do a lot less damage than targeted ones. Hitting a nuclear warhead in flight would tear it to shreds before its own detonation system could operate; it would not explode, it would disintegrate. The scattered nuclear material would be nasty, but a lot less nasty than blast effects, fire and fission products.

    This is even more true of chemical and biological agents. If you spilled these above the atmosphere, they'd be cooked by the heat of re-entry. Anything that survived that would be left to drift down from very high in the stratosphere, where solar UV tears molecules apart. While the shell of the vehicle would very likely harbor some dangerous stuff, it would be off-target and far less likely to cause serious damage. In short, being able to damage or destroy a warhead before it re-enters eliminates most of the threat it represents.
    --

  • From The Devil's Dictionary [alcyone.com]:

    PEACE, n. In international affairs, a period of cheating between two periods of fighting.

    One point consistently missed by the people who keep banging on the ABM treaty is that this isn't a two-superpower world any more. The USSR is gone, the Russians have no stomach for imperialism in Europe (they have their hands full with their own former SSR's), and our threats now include ideological (China, N. Korea), religious (Iran, maybe someday Pakistan) and personality-cult (Libya, Iraq) nation-states. It's never been easier to go nuclear, and we can't go on pretending that the only credible threat is HQed in Moscow.
    --

  • Many governments, which do not otherwise possess the ability to project military power beyond their own borders, strive to obtain ballistic missile technology because of its capability to intimidate economically and militarily superior opponents. As such, the missile technology represents a potent weapon of strategic intimidation. Ballistic missiles have a number of distinct characteristics that make them a particularly attractive weapon for developing nations. Compared to other delivery systems, ballistic missiles are many times faster than manned aircraft vehicles and have a much shorter flight time to the target, and are thus more likely to penetrate the intended target area. Their high speed also means they are difficult for active missile defenses to intercept. The threat posed by missile proliferation has traditionally been seen in terms of ballistic missiles. Efforts to acquire or develop missile technology have been aimed at obtaining ballistic missiles, and there have been relatively little proliferation to date of long-range cruise missiles. But ballistic missiles do not represent the totality of the missile threat. Modern cruise missiles carry a similar-sized warhead to a ballistic missile of a similar range, but deliver that with far greater accuracy. Moreover, the means to develop advanced cruise missiles can increasingly be obtained on the open market. Given these factors, one may anticipate efforts by proliferant states to obtain such technologies or hardware as well. If they are successful, the threat will be increased considerably.
  • I remember on that history of the cold war that Ted Turner made, they said that for every dollar spent by the enemy on offensive missiles, you had to spend X times that, where X I think is 6.
    It is much easier to develop decoys etc. than means to shoot them all down, or identify the real warheads. And if it can be made to work, (unlikely) it is very dangerous to world stability, as it means a nuclear war is winnable . This basically breaks the mutually assured distruction which stopped the cold war from heating up.
  • As I was reading all this very-serious stuff about the ABM treaty, and whether the USA was still bound by it, my part native-american wife was reading over my shoulder. She made a comment on the value of a treaty with Uncle Sam, but this is a family forum, and it sounded anatomically impossible (or at least highly dangerous), so I'd better not repeat it here.
  • Yes, it's all self interest..... you have a very large stratigic
    millitary base in the middle of Australia. However you will
    not even help a country that has been fighting along side
    you since WWII, and very strongly in Vietnam (1960 Quote
    from Australian PM Harold Halt; All the was with LBJ.)

    Yes, when Australia becomes a primary force in
    peacekeeping in East Timor, the US has nothing to do with
    it. Why? Because of their arrogance, and that they are only
    looking out for number 1; themselves.

    WWII- Revenge
    Vietnam- To keep capitalism powerful
    Golf- To keep oil for the US price down
    Kosovo- To stop an upcoming power

    All of these event were to lok out for number 1. Australia
    has been involved with al of these situations, yet only
    one of them directly affected us. Why? Because we don't
    have the wealth or the power of the US, but we have a
    little wealth and a little power, but not all of it goes into self
    interest.

    There is a greater difference between "our country" and
    "your country" then dollars and cents. Our country actually
    cares for others then itself.
  • I just realize I made a little error, nothing major. There was only SALT [no SALT I or II] but there was 2 STARTs, START I and START II. [I kind got the # of those two mixed up]. As well, START II was never ratified by the US Congress.
  • Of couse, just like the Northern Americans invaded the South [or was it the other way around] when the South split. China has every right to do the same, after all Formosa is a rogue Chinese province.
  • The Polyus has never been confirmed or denyed by the Russians. The ABM treaty never specified explosives. It delt with weapons that would shot down [Anti] Ballstic Missile [Nukes].

    Remember, the AC-33 is not a every effective ABM. I belive the toss time [the time for a nuke to hit US] is anywhere from 3 minutes [Typhoon off coast] to ~20 to 30 for SS-18's or so from Ground Silos. In that time, they have to take off, fly to area [the AC-33 have a limited range for its laser] and shot.
  • yeah, I know this weapon. It is a torpedo like shaped device that fit into the undercarriage of the F-15s. It is an anti-satellite weapon [not ABM] and very ineffective at that].

    The way this works is that when the satellite is approximately overhead, the F-15 Afterburns to 50,000 to 55,000 feet and the Missile fires.

    The missile had a lot of limitation:
    1] The Satellite has to be within a very narrow angle off the launch point or it will not hit [it didn't have much manoverbility]
    2] It only goes up to near where the Space Shuttle Goes, near LEO [Low EarthOrbit] it really didn't have gas to go higher
  • Play Fair:

    Hhh, lets see.

    1] The Americans Conducted an ILLEGAL blockade of an Island [Cuba]. Why? Soviets was gonna put ICBM's there? Illegal you say? It was legal for the Soviets to puke Nukes there, but not legal for Americans to blockade it. Assuming it did violate the Non-Profilateration Treaty [The Cuban Missile Crisis was before the Treaty Anyway], then the American IRBM [InterMediate Range Ballstic Missiles] in Turkey sure heck did first.

    2] Americans pretty much handed Nuclear Weapon Designed Plans to Isreal despite the NPT which was signed before then.

    3] Kosovo. Do I even have to go on? Illegally Delcaring war on another country, and don't even give the NATO bullshit. NATO cannot attack another country legally [or wait, yeah they can, remember? US Controls NATO].

    4] Ratification of START II. The START II treaty was signed by both US and USSR, the US Senate never ratified it.

    5] The F-15 ASAT Weapon. The Americans called it Anti-Satellite but it is technically an ABM weapon [although a crappy one at that]

    Seriously, Americans have never obey a treaty unless its to their advantage
  • One small correction, it was Nato that the US went into to Kosovo with. This is one of the main problem many in the world community had with the intervention, the US completly ran over the process that suppossed to take place in the UN when a countries soveregnity is at stake. Of course the UN would never have approved of the violation of Yugo. integrety because Russia and china both saw the writing on the wall in appllication to themselves, ie. Chechnya and Tibet
  • Actually nukes are the only thing Russia is really trying to keep in working order. They pretty much figured out that they don't have the money to field a conventional force to defend a territory as large as theirs, so they've decided to put their money into nukes to prevent a large scale attack and are using special forces/paratroopers to keep order in smaller border wars. There were a few articles in various foreign policy journals about this, reporting that a much higher percent of Russias defence budget is going into the design and manufacture of new nukes as well as maintenance of its current stockpile.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 01, 1999 @02:49AM (#1573591)
    Scanning 178 replies, I've observed that no one used the phrase ARMS RACE. History is full of accounts of the US and Russia military escalations-they have cost us an unconsionable amount of money, and now we are spending big dollars to dismantle that which we spent so dearly to construct. Madness lies here. Only the arms manufacturers will win. Others have noted the technical futility of avoiding all nuclear devices. I can think of no nation that has the means to build a delivery vehicle that would use one in offense. We will remain at risk from the Bin Ladens of the world forever. They will not deliver a nuke on a ICBM, they will deliver it in a rental truck... Don't waste our taxes, don't fuel another arms race, focus on making peace in the world.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 31, 1999 @07:18PM (#1573592)
    If you want to get a good understanding of how useful having treaties are with the US Government, just as the Native Americans. For over 200 years the treaties signed with the Native Americans by US Government have been violated! Even if we do sign a treaty and obey it on the outside our block ops guys are trying to figure out a way to violate it in secret.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 31, 1999 @07:54PM (#1573593)
    Ask all of the priests in Central America who were slaughtered by CIA-trained "death squads" if America is "good"...

    While you're at it, go ask the Russians who let their economy be a tinker-toy for Harvard economists who broke it wide open and then didn't bother cleaning up the mess...

    After that, ask the people who live in the Bikini Atoll, who were nuked without warning during the "Mike" atomic tests, if America is "good"...

    Maybe if you have some spare time you can ask American GIs from the Gulf War, who were forced to swallow "anti nerve gas" pills the Pentagon knew, based on over 30 reports were very harmful, if America is "good"...

    And lastly, ask the ghosts of Ro Gun Ri if America is "good"....convinced yet????

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 31, 1999 @08:52PM (#1573594)
    In *Theory* - MAD, or Mutual Assured Destruction is the only reason that the Cold War "worked". If one side or the other had a-missile technology... then the MAD doctrine would have fallen apart (because one side is no longer 'assured' destruction. For that reason, a-missile technology is actually more of a first-strike technology (in the sense that if you have it, you have no deterent against not striking first), therefor the reason for the bans.

    In *Practice* - For those of us in So. Cal. , watching the recent exo-atmospheric a-missile test was *really* cool - I can't beleive just how much that thing lit up the sky when it hit the target
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 31, 1999 @08:03PM (#1573595)
    Your argument seems well thought out, but certainly you must know that the type of system the US is developing is directed against nations who likely do not need to get fissible material from a Russian nuclear worker through clandestine means.

    Those parties who would purchase such material, notably nations like Iran, Iraq, Libya and North Korea, could easily use more effective measures for using such material in the United States.

    The United States has extremely porous borders. It is not impossible that a fission device could be brought into the United States and used as part of a terrorist operation. Such an attack would certainly be more crippling, as it would not be obvious who to blame (the historical dilemma of terrorism).

    Even more likely in the 21st century, is a biological attack using any number of extremely dangrous materials easily available.

    The only defense is peace. I know that sounds trite, but really, there is no feasible technological defense to the various offensive measures an opponent could employ.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 31, 1999 @08:13PM (#1573596)
    The Russians were breaking the agreements since day one. Ever since the first treaty, Russia hasnt bothered to fullfill thier end of the bargain. But the U.S. did TRY to play fair.
    Well, the Beaurocrats in Washington have discovered that you cant trust Russia (or China, or Saddamn, or blah) to play fair.

    Frankly, I dont like Weapons of Mass Destruction anymore than the next person, but the reality is that America has to look out for itself. Most of the other nations in the world resent the U.S. (if not hating it outright) and would go to any lengths to see our downfall. Even by signing phoney treatise and peace initiatives and whatnot in order to buy 'em enough time to stock up thier arsenal enough to do some real damage.
    Thats the reality of how the world works. I would rather be on the winning end.

    I dont trust any other nations promises of "reducing thier stockpiles". I never have and never will.
    In world politics, its every nation for itself. Always has been, and regardless of what weve been told, it always will be. Once the U.S. is gone, the world nations will turn on each other, just like jackals in the desert.

    Anyways...my two cents worth.

    Schizznick
  • by Aaron M. Renn (539) <arenn@urbanophile.com> on Sunday October 31, 1999 @07:08PM (#1573597) Homepage
    There is definitely a legal interpretation that the ABM treaty is no longer in effect due to the fact that the other party to the treaty - the Soviet Union - no longer exists. In fact, President Clinton negotiated a series of amendments to the ABM treaty. (These are not related to the current negotiations over the US deploying a limited missle defense). These amendments explicitly name Russia as the successor state to the Soviet Union for the ABM treaty. However, Clinton has not submitted this treaty to the Senate because he knows it will not be ratified. When you hear things about Congress delaying votes on the CTBT, various appointees, UN dues, etc. remember that part of that is because Clinton has refused to submit various treaties - such as the ABM modifications and the so-called Kyoto protocol - that he has signed and is implementing via executive order to the Senate for official ratification. He knows full well that the Senate, for example, voted 95-0 in a non-binding vote to reject the Kyoto treaty. Ah, the games people play.
  • by Detritus (11846) on Monday November 01, 1999 @02:36AM (#1573598) Homepage
    You say pro-disarmament like it's a bad thing!

    Disarmament can be good or bad, it depends on the circumstances. Disarmament is not a panacea. The naval disarmament treaties of the 1930s did not stop World War II.

    I don't regard nuclear disarmament as a worthy goal, in and of itself. Nuclear weapons often serve useful purposes. They can deter conventional war, the use of biological and chemical weapons, and provide a cost effective defense.

    Scientific American has been very one-sided in the articles that they have published. That is their right but people should be aware of their bias.

  • by scherrey (13000) on Sunday October 31, 1999 @07:19PM (#1573599) Homepage
    Nuclear test ban treaty only covers the testing of nuclear warheads by blowing them up. Its also a non-poliferation treaty, i.e., all participants "unilaterally" agree to cease poping nukes either above or under ground.

    Additionally, the treaty isn't being renewed because its never been enforced. Clinton signed it early on knowing full well that the Republican Senate would not ratify it. I presume he was hoping that his party would get control of the Senate in the meantime.

    In summary, the treaty's never been enforced cause we've never ratified it and it has nothing to do with "StarWars".
  • by JamesKPolk (13313) on Sunday October 31, 1999 @07:00PM (#1573600) Homepage

    CNN/Time [cnn.com] has this story from about a month ago mentioning that the US is attempting to work with the Russians on this.

    My guess is, in the long run, Russia will have to bend on this, as the country's in such a mess, that it hasn't the will to fight over this. When the economy, the corruption, the basic conventional defense, Chechnya, Dagestan, and such are going on domestically, foreign policy will take a back seat. Especially with the first presidential election without Yeltsin running coming up.

  • by IanCarlson (16476) on Sunday October 31, 1999 @07:10PM (#1573601) Homepage
    Yeah, "What happens to the weapons development during peacetime?" seems like a valid question.

    Well the answer is pretty simple. Obviously, they don't stop. Peacetime is only a padding between wartimes and the best way to make sure your enemy doesn't defeat you at the next go `round is to be practicing in the off-season. Does anyone here honestly believe that with the nuclear club opening up as much as it has in the recent years that any nation in its right mind would stop Weapon and Anti-Weapon development?

    I, for one, don't think so.

    A much more valid topic of debate is whether or not the media coverage just drops off or if the information is no longer submitted for public consumption.
  • by Q-Hack! (37846) on Sunday October 31, 1999 @07:45PM (#1573602)
    Actually the SCUD isn't an intercontinental ballistic missile, it just doesn't have the range of a true ICBM. The Treaties were written about being able to shoot down ICBM's capable of nukes, bio or chem that can be launched from any point on the planet to any point on the planet. The SCUD can be shot down with just about any current system, however an ICBM requires much more precision.

    I can remember back during the start of the Gulf War, thinking that we should have been wearing full chem gear. Didn't know it then, but if Sadam Hussein had actually loaded his SCUD's with Chemicals, the missile would have been to heavy to fly the short distance from Bagdahd to Ryhadh. Of course when he started moving the missals closer to the border, thats when we started wearing full gear.

    IMHO, the treaties of old no longer apply to today. And while it pains me to think we have to break them to protect ourselves. It would be much worse, for us, if we let other countries have the advantage.


  • by HerrNewton (39310) <thoiigd3pn5p2500 ... a k e m ail.com> on Sunday October 31, 1999 @10:40PM (#1573603) Homepage

    I'm not quite sure if I have this right, but I believe that one of the nuclear disarmament treaties the US holds with the former USSR specifically allows an ABM facility to be placed in North Dakota and nowhere else.

    I won't get into the little economic-political debates with any Alaskans on /., but North Dakota does make a lot of sense. First, we're in the middle of North America, providing equal coverage to both coasts. An Alaskan installation would cover Hawaii but wouldn't be able to cover the east coast as effectively.

    Additionally anyone who has ever visited northeastern North Dakota has seen the relatively massive Airforce presence in the region. Though most lay empty, the state is dotted with nuclear missle silos, enough where (I think) North Dakota would have been the world's 3rd largest nuclear power if the state had seceded. Then there is the still functioning Cavalier Air Station which watchers the north pole for incoming nukes... And one cannot forget the abandoned but friggin cool Nekoma installation whose purpose actually was ABM. [Picture [147.71.210.23] - Best I Could Find]

    From http://www.redstone.army.m il/history/vigilant/chap4.html [army.mil]

    SAFEGUARD

    The parallel mission responsibility of ARADCOM to develop and deploy a ballistic missile defense system for CONUS was continued until the functions were assumed by the Ballistic Missile Defense Program Manager on September 3, 1974.

    This September 3 handoff from ARADCOM to the program manager preceded, by 13 months, the date that the SAFEGUARD complex in North Dakota became operational. This complex, called the Mickelsen Complex after ARADCOM 's third commanding general, Lt. Gen. Stanley R. Mickelsen, was located 100 miles northwest of Grand Forks. Its reason for being was to defend 150 Minuteman missiles located nearby and to provide a "light" defense of the upper-Midwest of the continent against ballistic missile attack.

    Donald Baucom gives a succinct description of the Mickelsen complex in his book, The Origins of SDI: In a number of ways, the Mickelsen facility was a technological marvel. The 80-foot-tall truncated pyramid that housed the antennas for the MSR dominated the flat landscape around the town of Nekoma. The structure's four-foot-thick concrete walls were sloped at a 35-degree angle to provide hardening against the effects of nuclear blast. Each sloping surface of the pyramid held a radar antenna that was 13 feet in diameter and contained five thousand phased-array elements.

    The four faces of the MSR allowed it to search for targets coming from all directions, and it could acquire these targets at a range of 300 miles. The MSR worked in conjunction with a PAR near Cavalier, North Dakota, 25 miles northeast of the missile Site. This was also a phased-array radar, but it was designed to search in only one direction - toward the north. In the event of a Soviet attack, the PAR would detect incoming missiles at a range of I 800 miles, about the time the warheads were passing over the North Pole. Detection at this range would allow only six minutes to plan the battle against the approaching reentry vehicles. Computers associated with the PAR would determine the trajectory of incoming missiles and pass the information to the MSR for control of the defensive missiles that would attack the warheads.

    Two types of missiles were employed in the SAFEGUARD system. The high-altitude SPARTAN missile was built by McDonnell Douglas. It was a three-stage, solid-propellant rocket armed with a nuclear warhead that killed warheads by blast and X-rays that were lethal to warheads several miles away. SPARTAN was 55 feet long. The second missile, SPRINT, was a marvel of aeronautics and space technology. Built by Martin Marietta, it was designed to operate at hypersonic speeds in the earth's atmosphere; at its top speed, the missile's skin became hotter than the interior of its rocket motor and glowed incandescently. If one somehow could have trained an acetylene torch on the nose of the missile at this speed, the hot gases of the torch would have cooled the nose. The electronic components of the SPRINT were designed to withstand accelerations of 100 times gravity. The missile was 27 feet long, consisted of two stages, and used solid fuel. Like SPARTAN, SPRINT carried a nuclear warhead.

    Together these missiles provided a "layered" defense. SPARTAN was designed to attack the incoming "threat cloud" of warheads, boosters and decoys while it was still above the atmosphere. SPRINT would then attack surviving warheads after they had penetrated the atmosphere where the resistance and friction of the air would separate the warheads from decoys and booster debris.

    Also, from http://www.dlcppi.org/TEXTS/FOREIGN/MISSILE.HTM [dlcppi.org]

    Nothing in the ABM Treaty prohibits the United States from reactivating the Nekoma ABM base. Nor is the United States prevented from destroying the Nekoma facilities and building a new ABM site in a location near an ICBM deployment area. One could be chosen to provide better coverage of the contiguous 48 states than could be achieved from North Dakota. The United States also has the option to move its single site to a location within 150 kilometers (km) of Washington, DC. If well-chosen, such a deployment might protect a small fraction of the American population against a few nuclear warheads.

    So there's the history, at least. BTW, some of you may be wonderinghow I could just pull this knowledge from the ether--The brother-in-law of an ex-girlfriend of mine was stationed at the Cavalier Air Station. Supposedly, he played Quake all day. Makes you feel really safe, doesn't it? :-)


  • by Mr. Slippery (47854) <(tms) (at) (infamous.net)> on Sunday October 31, 1999 @06:51PM (#1573604) Homepage
    It's been a while since I researched this, but IIRC research is allowed under the ABM treaties, it's just deployment of a missle defense that's prohibited.

    I expect that we'll just ignore the treaty and deploy, if Congress thinks it's to our stratigic advantage - the US generally has little respect for international law or treaties. (Unless of course some major campain contributor stands to gain.)

  • by Fourier (60719) on Sunday October 31, 1999 @11:27PM (#1573605) Journal
    Keep in mind, the anti-ballistic missile is being designed for one purpose, defense from an air threat. This is not a weapon of attack, and therefore should not be infringed upon by any treaty.

    This is somewhat short-sighted. The idea that you should always be free to defend yourself sounds good, but the reality is somewhat more complex.

    Suppose country X has ten missiles, and country Y has 12 missiles, and it takes only five missiles to destroy either country. This scenario is unwinnable; an attack is suicide.

    Now suppose country Y develops anti-ballistic missiles that are 80% effective. Suddenly country Y can win a war without being utterly destroyed. Effectively, the defensive missiles have become offensive weapons.

    Of course, country X can compensate either by developing its own defensive missiles (thus making its own survival possible), or by building more nukes (assuring mutual destruction). The result: more spending with little change in the balance of power. Assuming X and Y are not driven solely by a desire to wipe each other off the face of the earth, they will probably consider saving themselves some money by crossing anti-ballistic missiles off the "to do" list.
  • by CoolAss (62578) on Sunday October 31, 1999 @10:01PM (#1573606)
    Well... just so you know, those technologies are about 10% to 11% effective against incoming balistic missiles. So if you have say 10 warheads incoming, that's about a 1% chance you will get all of them. Fun fun.

    I know this because my uncle designs the guidence systems for those anti-nuke missiles and laser targeting systems. There are also currently no functioning orbiting units capable of killing a nuke.

    Considering that... those treaties that still do exsist won't be too effected.

    :-)
  • by jass (83214) on Sunday October 31, 1999 @07:09PM (#1573607)
    International law is very clear here. The ABM treaty signed with the USSR is still in effect. Under international law, the USSR did not die. Some parts of the nation left, and what remained was renamed. But the nation did not disappear. For example, Russia did not have to loose the U.N. security council seat that belonged to the USSR.

    Under the ABM treaty, each country is allowed to have one ABM facility. The Russians have built one around Moscow. The U.S. has not yet built one.

    The Russians are extremely upset about U.S. actions. The U.S. is moving in a direction that will require the U.S. to either renegotiate the treaty or break it. I sure hope the U.S. does not break it. The last thing we need is a nationalist fascist party to take power in Russia.

    American foreign policy is usually governed by "self interest." But American policy makers often make serious misjudgments about what that interest actually is. Recall the US overthrow of a legitimate Iranian government and the installation of the Shaw (this action lead to the Islamic Revolution) and Vietman.
  • by MillMan (85400) on Sunday October 31, 1999 @08:23PM (#1573608)
    much more than the paper they're written on. Whats going to stop the gov't from just working around this stuff? Lies, cheating, etc? The star wars program was (I beleive) show to be nothing more than a black hole for money, at least by the popular press. I don't think it was, I think they came up with some laser weapons. In fact they do, they used a laser a few years ago to modify the orbit of a sattelite. They could have turned up the power and blown it to bits if they want to. This was actually reported by the mainstream media (not frontpage news, however).

    These treaties do a few things. They give the citizens a small amount of false security. They're also like a truce between animals...when you have to males fighting over territory, they'll fight for a while, someone wins, ans they have a kind of truce. But we all know they're going to be fighting again later. Same thing here. The nuclear weapons we've disarmed haven't been destroyed, they're simply disasembled and in storage. If a nuclear war comes along, they'll be ready to go in no time.

    The point is this: The US and Russia were used to doing what they want during the cold war. The only thing that limited the extent of their actions was each other, specifically Mutually Assured Destruction. Today, the US stands alone. Many have said the US has lost a influence over the past 20 or 30 years. I say the US certainly has not...it runs the world directly or indirectly pretty much top to bottom. So basically our government does what it wants, like a neighborhood bully. Witness the recent "war" in kosovo. We f'ed that country up for many, many years to come. Has any good come out of it? Absolutely not, the racial hatred is as bad as it ever was.

    So what makes anyone think the US cares about what these treaties say? Who is going to tell the US what to do? Who can stand up to the US' military might? No one. The only thing I can think of is a few small nuclear weapons in a truck parked somewhere in Manhatten. Evasive terrorist groups are the only real (or even imagined, for that matter) threat to the US right now. There are no coutries left that can threaten the US.
  • by Nass (96235) on Monday November 01, 1999 @02:15AM (#1573609)
    Basically, it's all to do with the changing times and new threat perceptions.

    In 1972, when the USA and the USSR signed the bilateral Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) treaty, it was the age of balance thanks to 'Mutually Assured Destruction' (MAD). In a nutshell, since both protagonists could blow each other to kingdom come (and following classical deterrence theory, therefore neither was likely to do so), the introduction of technology that would undermine that condition was considered destabilising and dangerous, so they signed ABM to prevent it.

    Onto the late 1990s, when the global ballistic missile proliferation scene and Washington's threat perceptions have changed. Specifically, Washington wants to help two allied nations desperately seeking this ABM technology: Japan (vs. North Korean ballistic missiles) and Israel.

    Since the treaty is just a bilateral agreement between two consenting parties, all Washington has to do to give it up is to give notice to the other party (6 months I think), and it is done. It is nothing to do with the USSR's mutation into the CIS, just straightforward diplomacy.

    In fact, if you look at things like Israel's 'Arrow' system or the USA's Asian 'THAAD' programme, the ABM Treaty is prettymuch history already anyway.

    Hope that helps,
    Johan
    Jane's Intelligence Review.

  • by BWS (104239) <swang@cs.dal.ca> on Sunday October 31, 1999 @07:11PM (#1573610)
    That was the origional 1972 Treaty, it was later modified to have only 1 ABM system for one location and later reduced to 0
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 31, 1999 @06:55PM (#1573611)
    White Sands has a few neat movies, the THAAD ones show missiles blowing up other ones. Very cool. White Sands Movies [army.mil]
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 31, 1999 @07:13PM (#1573612)
    All treaties with the former USSR are still in effect. Treaty rights reverted to the CIS upon dissolution of the Soviet Union, and then to the Russian Federation. This is the same reason Russia now sits on the UN Security Council. The US will use the escape clause to break the treaty, claiming that the situation of the US has changed since the signing of ABM in 1972. This is (to some extent) true, since in 1972, N. Korea, Iran/Iraq did not have ICBM technology. They still don't, but they are getting close. However, this is a foolish arguement, since there is absolutely no way any of those nations can develop a significant biological/nuclear arsenal capable of doing significant damage to the US. *One* of our Ohio-class nuclear ballistic missile submarines could easily annihilate the population centers of one of those countries. I think the leadership of those three countries (like many others) can be very foolish, but they are not suicidal. Unfortunately, the US has not dealt with arms control issues very well under the current Clinton administration. The recent CTBT fiasco is a good example. In the case of CTBT, the US really should have a capability to remanufacture old weapons designs, which is what Russia does. In that case, there is no need to test - if you think an old weapon is no longer functioning, you simply build a new one based on the old design. Right now, the US cannot do that, at least without extreme difficulty (not to mention massive political fallout - pun intended). FYI, current global active and hedge nuclear stockpile statistics are available from the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists [bullatomsci.org]
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 31, 1999 @07:18PM (#1573613)
    All treaties with the former USSR are still in effect. Treaty rights reverted to the CIS upon dissolution of the Soviet Union, and then to the Russian Federation. This is the same reason Russia now sits on the UN Security Council.

    The US will use the escape clause to break the treaty, claiming that the situation of the US has changed since the signing of ABM in 1972. This is (to some extent) true, since in 1972, N. Korea, Iran/Iraq did not have ICBM technology. They still don't, but they are getting close. However, this is a foolish arguement, since there is absolutely no way any of those nations can develop a significant biological/nuclear arsenal capable of doing significant damage to the US. *One* of our Ohio-class nuclear ballistic missile submarines could easily annihilate the population centers of one of those countries. I think the leadership of those three countries (like many others) can be very foolish, but they are not suicidal.

    Unfortunately, the US has not dealt with arms control issues very well under the current Clinton administration. The recent CTBT fiasco is a good example. In the case of CTBT, the US really should have a capability to remanufacture old weapons designs, which is what Russia does. In that case, there is no need to test - if you think an old weapon is no longer functioning, you simply build a new one based on the old design. Right now, the US cannot do that, at least without extreme difficulty (not to mention massive political fallout - pun intended).

    FYI, current global active and hedge nuclear stockpile statistics are available from the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists [bullatomsci.org]

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 31, 1999 @07:33PM (#1573614)
    Why are people asking whether or not these treaties are still valid? That's like asking if its illegal to J-walk. All you have to do is check. Either the CIS honors all Soviet-era treaties or it doesn't.

    That aside, the current tactic of developing an anti-ballistic missile defense is a disastrous development in international affairs.

    Firstly, it is terribly destabalizing to treaties that have kept the world from turning into a cinder for fifty years.

    Why is it so destabalizing? In order to succesfully maintain peace by integrating such a system into our countermeasures, our "enemies" must be thoroughly convinced that it works, and that any attack they make on the United States would be thwarted by such a system. This is not the case. It is highly unlikely that such a system would defend the United States against current offensive measures that the Chinese or Russians could employ in an attack. Hence, it destroys our treaty relationships with these countries while providing no real defensive gain. Please see the recent article in Scientific American regarding the fallacy of an anti-missile defense (written by people who know more about it than you) if you have doubts.

    The most important point is that this project is just another in a long line of pork projects to prop up the military industrial complex. The United States has spent more money since the fall of the Berlin Wall on military projects than most taxpayers would assume is prudent. Some projects the military doesn't even want, like the B2 (Gen Horner, of the Air Force at the time when the B2 was rolled out, was firmly against the B2 as its mission description seemed unclear, and it was simply too expensive), or recent submarine deployments, which have navy officers griping that they are retiring (scrapping) subs which are hardly broken in just to get the new ones on line and tested. Now we have the F22, the JSF, and whatever else is on tap, meanwhile American children are attending some of the crappiest schools in the first world.

    Of course, the American propoganda machine has been working hard for fifty years to convince you that some bogey man is about to invade us, so we need all of these toys to protect our empire. Now of course, we know factually that the CIA vastly exaggerated Soviet military power during the cold war...and now they want us to believe North Korea (which can hardly feed its citizens) is going to launch ICBMs against New York. Whatever.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 31, 1999 @08:42PM (#1573615)
    If any such 'suitcase nukes' were built, they probably wouldn't work anymore. The radiation from the fissionable material degrades the components and makes the weapon inoperable within a few years time.

    The US has a regular maintainance and repair schedule for its nuclear weapons. After the breakup of the soviet union, one has to wonder how many Russian nukes are still in usable condition. The US govt probably suspects the same, so they're throwing their weight around.

    Chemical and biological weapons are actually a much bigger problem.
  • Those treaties we made with Russia concerned just anti-nuclear missile weapons. During Nixon's stint in office, scientists had come up with a way to build anti-missle missles around large cities or important tagets that needed to be protected from the Reds. Russia threatened to do the same, so a treaty was struck up guaranteeing that neither side would protect itself from a nuclear onslaught.

    I wonder how Regan's Star Wars program affected this treaty. Anyway, the point being, is those treaties concerned nuclear weapons, not standard missles, like the SCUD missles that were supposedly shot down during the Gulf War.

  • by Stradivarius (7490) on Sunday October 31, 1999 @08:52PM (#1573617)
    The truth of the matter is that the only way to prevent nuclear war is to stop nuclear proliferation and limit the number of nuclear weapons in existence. Too bad the US Senate took a big step in the wrong direction last week.


    The thing is, the threat of MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) works great when you've got a small number of nations with nuclear weapons. The USA and USSR weren't about to nuke each other, because they knew damn well it was suicide. And they each had stringent controls in place to ensure no accidental launches. And they also had reasonably stable political systems, so none of the countries were about to fall into anarchy. So our treaty with the Soviet Union made a lot of sense back when they still existed.

    The problem now is that rather than having a small number of powerful nations with nukes, the world now has dozens of countries with nukes, some in very unstable regions. This poses a huge problem: what if some piss-ant dictator, who's not necessarily very sane, manages to gain control of one of these countries (even if for only a short time)? They may decide that their neighboring country, or the US (the favorite demon of various dictators of the world) needs to feel some pain. So they launch some nukes, and don't care if we retaliate. Or maybe they think we won't retaliate with nukes, for political reasons. Are we supposed to leave ourselves open to this?

    Yeah, it would've been great if we could've prevented everyone from getting nukes, but the genie's out of the bottle. I don't think we're going to be able to get it back in just yet. An undefended US is just too tempting of a target. However, if we have a defense system, it gives us much more leverage when trying to prevent nuclear proliferation. If then we say, OK, let's all get rid of the nukes; then the afore-mentioned nations have no good reason not to go along. Having the nukes is no longer much use, and why risk the anger of the world community if there's no gain?

    The only way we're going to eliminate the chance of nuclear war is through diplomacy, since as you said any defense system can be overwhelmed. However, the chances of a nuclear attack coming from a stable nation is very low, due to the MAD factor and diplomatic efforts. Having the defense system provides protection against those that diplomacy will never reach.

    And so, a defense system is the only way for us to truly take a step forward in nuclear disarmament.
  • by Barbarian (9467) on Sunday October 31, 1999 @08:30PM (#1573618)

    These are ALL consistent with meteor events.

    And btw, how do you judge the speed of something moving overhead? How can you compare a trail in the night sky with a jet airplane, when you cannot even see the object and have no idea how large it should be? If you don't know the size, you can't tell the speed (as you can't judge distance). Common commercial jets are similar enough in size then observation allows some rough judgements about their speed.

    Objects with what appear to be sparks coming off? Sounds like a meteor to me. As to this:

    And as to why three objects can come into the same area---a larger meteor that has broken up in the past, or several objects in resonance in their orbit will be travelling in the same path, with very close time.YEKIMENKO: How would a microwave generator be used "in anger" Boris?

    BELITZKY: It would be used to fire a plasmoid, that is, a blob of plasma into the path of an incoming missile, its warhead, or an aircraft. The plasmoid would effectively, ionize that, region of space and, in this way, disturb the aerodynamics of the flight of the missile, warhead, or aircraft, and terminate their flight. This makes such a generator and its plasmoid a practically invulnerable weapon, providing protection against; attack via space or the atmosphere.

    Plasma is a gas...even in large quantities, it is subject to rapid diffusion in the atmosphere. It is hot--the air surrounding it is cool. It has a tendancy to expand with respect to the air around it and diffuse.

    If you want to believe though, please go ahead and do so.

  • by Spaceman The Spiff (11784) on Sunday October 31, 1999 @07:08PM (#1573619) Homepage
    The Anti Ballistic Missle Treaty still applies between the United States and Russia. As I remember the details the treaty prevented weapons that intercepted missles in the atmosphere. This is why the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI or "Star Wars") was allowed, for it was space based. The United States can continue to develop space based weapons, though I'm not sure there is any use.
    The problems with SDI are: 1)Cost. It is still extremely expensive to develop any of these technologies. One estimate was that it would cost close to one trillion dollars. 2)Defense/offense dilema. Creating countermeasures is always easier that building more effective defences. The easiest way to get around an SDI system is to simply launch more missles. As well you could use criuse missles which are not suceptible to space based defenses.
    There were other reasons that were more important during the cold war, but don't apply to our current situation. The truth of the matter is that the only way to prevent nuclear war is to stop nuclear proliferation and limit the number of nuclear weapons in existence. Too bad the US Senate took a big step in the wrong direction last week.
  • When USSR ceased to exist and Russia came to existence, the Russian government decided to uphold in principle all the treaties USSR made, as well as assume national debt that USSR had.

    As far as I know, US senate passed no official measure acknowledging this transition. Hence, every so often when senators mention various treaties made with then USSR, they will allude to the fact that the US has no legal obligation to abide by that treaty. In practice, however, the US administration has for the most part abided by the terms of these treaties.
  • by J.J. (27067) on Sunday October 31, 1999 @07:48PM (#1573621)
    The treaties signed with the USSR are still in effect with Russia. If the dissolving of the Soviet Union also dissolved all the treaties things would've gone to hell in a handbasket very quickly.

    I assume that Congress/DoD is developing the weapons under the guise of an anti-ballistic missle program, and are just promising not to expand the use of the weapons to an anti-satellite type mission. In the old days of the USSR, this would have caused an uproar. But today, it's essential for the United States to have an ABM program. Russia understands this, and allows the technology to be developed without causing too much difficulty.

    The problem is the downfall of the Soviet Union. Tracking the proliferation of nuclear arms in Eastern Europe & elsewhere is one of the larger problems that our country's intelligence agencies have today. Over the past several years, the nuclear arsenal of the former Soviet Union has diminished frightenly. Corrupt soviet officers, the Russian mafia, even gov't officials have been conviently losing track of nuclear arms to their own financial gain.

    There are far too many terrorists in this world. During the height of the Cold War, the checks of the USSR were sufficient enough to deter the loss of nuclear materials. However, the collapse of Russia's infrastructure has sent that system of checks into ruin. The nuclear materials that helped make the USSR the superpower it was has fallen into the hands of hundreds, in not thousands, of individuals and countries worldwide. A lot of these people resent the US's self-appointed role as the world's police force. When you're sitting up as high as the United States is, everyone wants to knock you down.

    Now, most of these individuals/countries that have the nuclear weapons do not have the means of delivery. As far as my non-existant security clearance knows, North Korea is the only country hostile to the United States that has a ballistic missile capable of deilvering a nuclear warhead to within US borders. What scares the United States is what they don't know. After the Gulf War, the weapons inspectors were shocked to see how far along Iraq's nuclear capabilities had come. Iraq had progressed beyond the best of estimates by an order of magnitude, and all right underneath the noses of the collective world. Who's to say that they same isn't happening elsewhere? And that when the technology is finalized, it's not coming torwards the United States, packing enough power to level Los Angeles?

    There's simply too much uncertainity these days. In some respects, the Cold War was a Good Thing, because our intelligence assests were focused, and the threats come from a single source. Nowadays, the threat can come from anywhere, and the price of eternal vigilance is high. This is why these ABM systems are being developed. Today, North Korea poses a real nuclear threat. Tomorrow, who knows where that threat will originate. The United States is a high profile target - Congress understands this, and Russia understands this.

    That is why the US gov't doesn't care.

    (sorry for rambling a bit - it's getting late.)
  • You unfortunately have it exactly right -- the treaties signed with the Soviet Union were inherited by Russia and the CIS. These treaties specifically prohibit these kinds of missile defense systems. The Russians could (and probably will) make the argument that our actions have nullified the treaty, and they will have no choice but to respond in kind.

    And that's a Really Bad Thing for us to be encouraging. The Russian military has been in decline for decades, and the decline has accelerated rapidly in the nineties. The conventional military is getting live training now in Chechnya, but is all the same not seen as a threat to the American forces -- now or at any point in the forseeable future.

    The nuclear forces on the other hand are still a viable threat to the US, and our recent actions encourage the Russians to rely more heavily upon them. This is just plain moronic on our part. Almost as bad as the sanctions against Pakistan, which have surely led to a lot of good in that country.

    The moves to strengthen our missile defense program are just plain stupid, no other way to put it. They violate the treaty that does most to ensure bilateral stability, and do so in an effort to counter one of the least likely threats to our territory. (Why use an ICBM when you can get the same or better results out of a suitcase?). What we're doing is wrong, wrong, wrong, and it can only lead to a renewed arms race.

    We cannot let that happen. The vestiges of representative democracy may be a farce at this point, but all the same we have to keep trying. If ever there was a time to write to your congressmen, this is one of those times. If you don't know who your congressmen are, try looking here [vote-smart.org]. Write to them, tell them what a colossal mistake they are making, find out what side they have taken on the matter (most support it), and make your stance & voting intentions clear to them. If enough people contact them, they'll listen. Hopefully. If living in a 'free' and 'peaceful' country means anything to you, then you must at least try.



  • by Spasemunki (63473) on Sunday October 31, 1999 @07:16PM (#1573623) Homepage
    If I remember my U.S civics class correctly, the US supreme court held in the decision of Trustees of Dartmouth College v. Woodward that contracts are still valid of themselves, even if the authrity by which they were issued isn't. This is a bit of a stretch of analogy(okay, a lot of a stretch), but it seems that similar principles would apply on our side at least. It is something of a dicey issue as to how this applies to the fromer members of the USSR; it is obsiously fair to argue that they individually were not signatories of the treaty, and are free to ignore or renegotiate its terms. The other half of it is that the bulk if not all of the former soviet republics are in such poor shape economically that there is little worry that they are going to be whipping out a fusion powered orbital rail gun any time soon. As for the US, I'd just as soon that they held up their end of the old bargain. Semi-effective orbital space weapons kind of give me the creeps.
  • by TomlinXS (68499) on Sunday October 31, 1999 @09:45PM (#1573624)
    Actually, in fact, not one SCUD was shot down by a Patriot missle. The simple fact is the SCUDs were built during World War II and litterally
    fell apart in the air.
    This is, in fact, incorrect. We were walking across an open field in Daharan SA the first time I ever heard a patriot missile fire (probably the loudest noise you're ever likely to hear). Being the idiot that I am I stood there and watched the missle as it tracked and then exploded close enough to a scud missle to knock it out of the air. As someone else mentioned it didn't destroy the missile but it did knock it out of the air causing the warhead (probably the second loudest sound you're ever likely to hear) to land in an unpopulated area. In this incident and serveral others that I witnessed later in the war the patriot never actually "hit" the incomming missile but they always caused enough damage to stop them from flying, which I guess is good enough.
  • by margaret (79092) on Sunday October 31, 1999 @09:56PM (#1573625)
    The Federation of American Scientists - http://www.fas.org [fas.org] - has a "peace and security" section that many people posting here might find interesting. It has extensive info about the military, disarmament, biological weapons, etc. Although it's an advocacy site (it was started by the manhattan project scientists who opposed dropping the bomb), the information seems very trustworthy.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 31, 1999 @07:21PM (#1573626)
    Well:

    1) Polyus (I think that's right) was a Soviet orbital weapons platform they did indeed launch in the 1980s. Reportedly the booster carrying it up malfunctioned and it never reached orbit, but still, they tried breaking the treaty first.

    2) The treaties involve explosives in space. The two anti-missile weapons I'm familiar with right now involve:

    -- a) A projectile that, instead of exploding in front of an ICBM, merely rams into it. It has no explosives, it's just basically a huge cannonball fired with great precision. Breaks no treaties for having weapons in space. I mean, the only way to really ban it would be to ban anything that could be pointed at another object and rammed into it, which would ban ICBMs anyway.

    -- b) Lasers mounted in the noses of 747s that would fry holes in ICBMs, causing them to plummet back to Earth. The theory here is, 747s kept in constant flight could respond immediately to a launch, firing at ICBMs in less than 30 seconds and causing them to fall back onto the country that launched them. Again, this puts no weapons into outer space, and banning it would basically be banning all military aircraft.

    So, basically, it seems that the U.S. is still respecting its treaties.

    ---

    I'm not a real anonymous coward, I just play one on TV.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 31, 1999 @07:54PM (#1573627)
    The new anti satelite, anti spacecraft technology is based on Nikola Teslas research into directed energy weapons. Numerous US military bases at antipodes bouce EM pulses between each other through the earth and then direct them upwards and away from the planet. STS-48 is footage of a shot fired from the Exmouth US military base in the North West of Western Australia. For more info about the West Australian tests (although they go on all over the world) read... http://www.millenngroup.com/repository/secret/brig htskies.html [millenngroup.com]
  • by Bill Henning (504) on Sunday October 31, 1999 @07:33PM (#1573628) Homepage
    As I understand it, the ABM treaty was inherited by Russia. Interesting question: Do the breakaway republics have to honor it?

    A better question is, can such a system actually work? I doubt a massive launch could be stopped; but it should be possible to stop the "lone missle" scenario.

    A neat solution would be to build a "Global Missile Defense" shield; that would automatically target and down ICBM's regardless of the point of origin.

    The problem with a global shield is that the UN could get its knickers in a twist and decide not to allow ANY space launches.

    Other problems with a missile defense - it does NOTHING to stop any of the following:

    - suitcase nukes

    - cruise missiles

    - (surface) ship carried nukes

    - car transported nukes

    - bio weapons (any of the above delivery mechanisms)

    Species wise, we need to get off our collective buts and stop keeping all of our eggs (humans) in one basket (earth).
  • by hpa (7948) on Sunday October 31, 1999 @06:48PM (#1573629) Homepage
    Most treaties the U.S. signed with the Soviet Union are still in force as agreements with Russia. The Russians are really ticked off that the U.S. are apparently completely disregarding the ABM Treaty, and have threatened to freeze any further arms reduction talks (e.g. START III).
  • by scherrey (13000) on Sunday October 31, 1999 @07:14PM (#1573630) Homepage
    I am not aware of a treaty signed with the new Russian Republic that brings over all treaties that we (the U.S.A. for your ferin' types) have signed although I wouldn't put it past Clinton to have slipped such a thing in without going to the Senate for ratification. I know that lots of the START treaty that we've subsequently signed was continued from negotiations with the USSR but those are new treaties for all intents and purposes.

    I could be wrong about the lack of said "continuance" treaty but barring its existence, and from my recollection the ABM treaty was specifically between the two powers and not a general non-proliferation treaty like nuclear testing.

    That said, the ABM treaty is effectively dead. Additionally, there are specific exemptions in the ABM treaty that allow ABMs to protect specific areas for each side. The Soviets have a large array of ABMs around Moscow but I don't think we ever deployed ours. To allow our continued development, we could still operate under the explicit exemption in the treaty for a limited protection net.

    One area where there is no treaty control is space-based weapons. We can thank Ronald Reagan and his willingness to walk out on Gorbachev to protect "Star Wars" development. This would be a better approach, albeit more expensive and difficult, because it stops the inbound ICBMs before they start re-entry and can "MIRV", thus reducing the number of targets that must be tracked an intercepted. As you may recall, to nullify the notion that this was a tactic the unbalance the arms balance, Reagan offered to give the technology to the Soviets in return for negotiating a complete ban on all nuclear weapons. This one-two punch was the straw that broke the camel's back for the USSR.

    We should continue this policy because the cost of entry into the nuclear club is now low enough for any 3rd world nation and many individuals to afford. If we don't deploy a system that makes successful delivery of such warheads unlikely, thus drastically increasing the risk that a launch would be intercepted inviting an overwhelming and potentially nuclear retaliation without the intended benifits, its not likely that we'll get out of the next decade without a missle being launched against a major power.
  • by Roundeye (16278) on Sunday October 31, 1999 @09:59PM (#1573631) Homepage
    Why is backing out of such treaties stupid? Because we lose the trust of the nations of the world? Any nation with a clue doesn't trust us already. We're sniffing all the communications we can get, and barging into everyone else's business. Fact of the matter is, we're also being dragged into everyone else's business as the (currently) most powerful member of the U.N.

    We don't set a good example, and our government (& big business) doesn't really care so long as we run things one way or another, supress those we don't like, and support those we do -- and keep our companies stronger (or apparently so) than the competition. Part of that big business is the military, and it's good business to build weapons, defense systems, and promote the occasional conflict to boost sales.

    But, the real crux of the issue is this:
    Those treaties were signed as part of detente. At a time when the USSR could be as capable as we were, at any given moment, of possibly figuring out how to put together an ABM, or a more effective ICBM, treaties were a way of diplomatically legislating around not-so-mutually assured destruction. To deploy such inventions would be breaking the treaty. Breaking the treaty could start a war, and possibly a nuclear exchange, and the end of the world, (etc.).

    There is no M.A.D. now. If the treaties are broken there won't be a war or a nuclear exchange. There is no country out there (and it would be difficult to find an alliance of them even) capable of waging an effective war against this country -- and none crazy enough to launch a massive nuclear strike (of the few capable). So the treaty is unenforced. The detente ideology which got us to the signing table is gone. The treaty is worthless to us, and unenforceable. Screw it (say the talking heads).

    Shades of Manifest Destiny, certainly, but those now-flimsy treaties stand in the way of very big dollars and more visible world domination -- backed up by a manufactured mandate to eliminate the threat of nuclear terrorism from "rogue nations like Iraq, N. Korea, Libya, etc."

    So, the abolition of the treaties is in America's industrial interest (both by increasing the flow of money in the defense industry, and by potentially making our government force other governments to trade with us more readily), in both major political parties' public image interests, in our nation's military interest (reasserting ourselves as the biggest boys on the block), and in the interest of the American people (by decreasing the likelihood that an ICBM will obliterate some number of them).

    While it's all well and good to be a bleeding heart wishing for a better world, the global economy and the stage of foreign diplomacy are run by the strongest nations. Whenever a people give away power they are eventually conquered (in the past it was by military might, today it is more often economically) without remorse. I am personally glad to be a citizen of the most militarily/industrially/economically powerful nation this world has ever seen, and (even though I don't agree with most that I let the government get away with -- and am fighting them when possible on a number of fronts) think it is idiotic to try to stop them from maintaining our power.

  • by Tarnar (20289) on Sunday October 31, 1999 @07:43PM (#1573632) Homepage
    Remember that when the concept of ABM was introduced, the only way to intercept a warhead that was in space, and a relatively insignificant, almost untrackable target was to blow up a nuke in it's general vicinity.

    So the ABM treaties were introduced because if nuclear war sounded bad enough, atmospheric nuking and a non-perfect intercept percentage just wasn't desirable.
  • by CRobin (20777) on Sunday October 31, 1999 @07:00PM (#1573633)
    The clinton administration is currently trying to get Russia to change those treaties. I was just reading another article about it today. Looks like France, Russia, and France are all getting pissed. Here is a that article

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/WPlate/1999 -10/31/141l-103199-idx.html
  • by nicksand (28560) on Sunday October 31, 1999 @07:28PM (#1573634)
    Remember that treaties are, ultimately, nothing more than a couple of scraps of paper. In themselves, they hold no power to enforce. Whatever enforcement mechanisms are in the world's arms treaties are obviously not worth a rat's ass. Now that the cold war is supposedly over, does the US suddenly head towards peace? Hell no. Our politicians know that their are plenty of other conflicts out there that they can twist to their advantage.

    Take Kosovo for instance. The UN backed by the US goes in to righteously stop a genocide and help throw down an evil dictator. After a war in which no friendly soldiers lose their lives, the politicians declare a victory. Everybody feels happy and confident in the powers of the US and UN. But what about the second genocide that has happened in Kosovo? Where the Albanians are now attacking the Serbs and forcing new mass exoduses? Well . . . those are swept under the rug as life goes on in American politics. A country in ruins and no true resolution to a conflict between to ethnicities, all so that the politicians could bump themselves up a few points in the polls.

    You may be wondering what all this has to do with treaties. Well . . . the answer is simple. Treaties in general are nothing more than policitial tools. People listen to them as long as they are convenient and that they can break them without getting in trouble. The only times that treaties in themselves have any use beyond symbolic purposes is when policitians drag us into another war. Treaties can then be used as a justification for attacking the "evil" forces of our enemies.

    So in summary: if you think you can find safety behind the walls of a treaty (particularly one related to weapons), you will find out that you are wrong the hard way. There will always be some evil schmuck who will be breaking the treaty, either with or without the permission of their government.

  • by Stu_28 (83254) on Sunday October 31, 1999 @08:18PM (#1573635)

    Actually, in fact, not one SCUD was shot down by a Patriot missle. The simple fact is the SCUDs were built during World War II and litterally fell apart in the air.

    As it stands no country, that I am aware of, currently has the capability to "shoot down" a missle of any type with any viable accuracy. The only defense to missle attack at this point is a missle which detonates in close proximity to the inbound missle showering it with shrapnel, thus disabling the inbound missle. But, this does not have an acceptable destruction ratio--far below the 80% accuracy mark.

    As for the assumption of this technology being manufactored with the former USSR's status as a threat, this is not true. The reasons that these types of weapons are being produced is quite frankly that other countries, who took no part in the treaty, are producing nuclear weapons--and our nations must be ready to defend against nuclear attack.

    Keep in mind, the anti-ballistic missile is being designed for one purpose, defense from an air threat. This is not a weapon of attack, and therefore should not be infringed upon by any treaty.

    As for the implication that this type of technology could be used as a type of anti-satelite/anti-spacecraft weapon, this is quite possible. Think of the reasons that this could be a good thing. Assume that the U.S. intervenes, at NATO's insistance, into another country's small war. This country has spy satelites, which can pin-point the U.S. troop movements and positions. The U.S. then would have the option of "blinding" this other country's satelites, insuring less U.S. casualties and allowing for a greater likelihood of a swift success--with less bloodshed. Would this be a bad thing? Considering the fact that the U.S. is sending their troops in at the world's request, I think not.

    Also, let's remember, these weapons are meant to be a deterrent. Just because we have them does not mean we will use them, unless of course it is unavoidable. Knowing that your enemy has the means to defeat an attack, makes it far less likely that you will be the aggressor.

    Finally, with the break-up of the Soviet Union, many less that politically stable countries and terrorist factions have increasingly been found to have access to cold war weapons of mass destruction. From biological agents to nuclear warheads, both of which can be delivered via ballistic missile. So, it is in every country's best interest to explore means of protection against this threat.

    The world, as it stands right now, is not a simple friendly place. It is complex. There are conflicting religions, political structures, and morals. In these turbulent times, with such hatred in existance, each country must prepare to defend their way of life, virtues, and beliefs. As they can no longer depend on another to do so, without political or financial benefit.

  • by MaPfJa (90764) on Sunday October 31, 1999 @07:02PM (#1573636)
    As anyone can find out with a google "uncle sam" [google.com] search, the text of the treaty is available online [acda.gov] including some explanations.
    Quotes from the explanation:

    "The Treaty permits each side to have one limited ABM system to protect its capital and another to protect an ICBM launch area. The two sites defended must be at least 1,300 kilometers apart, to prevent the creation of any effective regional defense zone or the beginnings of a nationwide system."

    "The most recent Treaty review was completed in October 1993. Following that review, numerous sessions of the Standing Consultative Commission have been held to work out Treaty succession -- to "multilateralize" the Treaty -- as a result of the break-up of the Soviet Union and to negotiate a demarcation between ABM and non-ABM systems."

  • by Temporal (96070) on Sunday October 31, 1999 @08:10PM (#1573637) Journal

    The United States is in fact working closely with the Russian government to create this new technology. It is true that the Russians are upset, but we have agreed not to deploy the defense systems unless the same technology is deployed in Russia simotaneously. The idea is that many countries other than the United States and Russia are gaining ICBM technology, and those countries are not bound by the treaty. Thus, we want to make sure that we are defended against them.

    For those who don't understand the treaty: The only way we were able to prevent a nuclear holocaust during the cold war was through MAD (Mutually Assured Distruction), meaning that neither side would launch because they knew that they would have been destroyed themselves. If one side had built a nuclear defense system that completely defended them against nuclear attack, MAD would have been no more, and nothing would have stopped that side from destroying their opponents. Fortunately, the leaders of both countries realized this and created the treaty before anything bad happenned.
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  • by BWS (104239) <swang@cs.dal.ca> on Sunday October 31, 1999 @06:56PM (#1573638)
    the USA and the USSR [now Russian] still have many treaties from the old cold war era. Specifically SALT [Strategic Arms Limitation Treats] I and II as well as the START [Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty] and the ABM [Anti-Ballistic Missile] Treaty that effects the current fiasco. The ABM Treaty is signed by both countris and is still in effect with Russia Instead of USSR.

    The ABM treaty allows origionally 2 ABM Defense Zones each nation with 100 Interceptors [ABM Missiles] which was reduced to 100 Interceptors at 1 Defense Zone [At this point I belive USSR picked Moscow and the USA picked a missile range but not sure which one]. It was later reduced to allowing no ABM.

    However, the critical points of the treaty are [those that effect us anyway:
    1] Both Parties May Agree to Amend The Treaty
    2] One Party May Withdrawl If They Provide a 6 Month Notice
    3] It allows the research but not actual deployment of any kinda

    The US is trying to get around this by going through either of the two routes, with the first more likely the perfered one:
    1] Talking with Russia to allow the deployment of a limited one for testing
    2] Pull out of the treaty [Remember, the 6 Month]


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