November 22nd 1999

All the world stood in awe as we watched the video last month of a successful ABM test.

The Pentagon test purported to show an interceptor missile - known as an EKV or Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle - strike and destroy an incoming "dummy" ICBM. The dummy ICBM was fired from California's Vandenberg Air Force Base and struck by the EKV as it neared its target over the mid-Pacific Ocean.

For the first time it appeared the Pentagon had figured out a way to "hit a bullet with a bullet." There has been growing support for an effective Anti-Ballistic Missile or ABM system - and even Clinton administration doves have been joining the chorus for one.

Critics of an ABM system have contended the technology didn't exist to create an effective interceptor missile. During the Gulf War the Patriot missile was hailed as an example of how ABM technology could work. Later it was revealed the Patriot had a dismal success rate.

CounterPunch, a monthly investigative newsletter edited by Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair, reports that a classified Pentagon document reveals how the ABM test was "fixed."

According to CounterPunch, the dummy ICBM "was tracked by an on-board C-band beacon and GPS. Ground track radars were neither needed nor used to guide the EKV."

In other words, the dummy ICBM had two homing devices that guided the interceptor missile - the EKV - right to the kill. This means the latest Pentagon ABM technology will work if Russia, North Korea and China will be so kind as to put a homing beacon in their missiles - enabling us to guide our interceptor missiles at them. Our guess is they won't be so kind.

That's why building an adequate ABM system should have been among the nation's highest priorities. The Clinton administration has blocked, stymied and delayed implementation of such a system during most of the past decade.

Inside Cover notes that Russia already has an effective ABM system. Former Defense Intelligence Analyst William Lee reports that Russia has a nation-wide system of ABM defenses, with battle management radar. According to Lee, Russia also figured out how to get around the "bullet hitting the bullet" problem. The Russians outfitted their ABM interceptors with neutron warheads. Russian interceptor missiles need not hit their targets precisely, just get close enough to fall victim to a nuclear explosion.

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