Reviewing Clinton Remarks on NMD From Theater Missile Defense (TMD) to National Missile Defense (NMD)

A Looming Danger NGOs Must Resist

17 September 2000

by Bahig Nassar, Coordinator,
Arab coordination Center of NGOs.

At a Seminar held on NWFZs in Uppsala, Sweden, September 1-4,2000, participants firmly opposed both TMD and NMD systems, different from the position of many US and European NGOs which confine their campaign to the prevention of NMD and utterly overlook the consequences of TMD deployment. The following short report is an attempt to discuss this issue.

  1. Clinton postponement of the decision to pursue the deployment of NMD and to leave the decision to the next President provides a valuable occasion to further NGOs campaign to prevent the deployment of Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD), both TMD and NMD.

    He confirmed that his decision is due to the lack of �absolute confidence� in existing technology, particularly in regard to �the booster rocket of the missile interceptor� and the ability of the system to deal with counter measures� (the decoys), He asked Cohen his Secretary of Defense to �continue a robust program of testing� to develop the system.

    While the deployment has been temporarily halted, the development of the system to secure its feasibility will continue unabated. This is the core of Clinton decision. He totally endorsed NMD and his selection of the former Senator, Cohen, a republican ardent advocate of Ballistic Missile Defense, to be the Defense Secretary of his Democratic Administration testifies to this fact.

    In addition to the decision, Clinton remarks on NMD of September the first, 2000 includes basic concepts in support of the system. He said �I am convinced that America and the world will be better off if we explore the frontiers of strategic defenses while continuing to pursac arms control to stand with our allies and to work with Russia and others to stop the spread of deadly weapons�. A package of contradictory concepts, obsolete and deceptive. Contrary to his claims, the deployment of NMD will lead to arms race and impede all efforts �to pursue arms control� and �to stop the spread of deadly weapons�.

    Rogue states which Clinton repeatedly claimed in his remarks as the prime cause of US Ballistic Missile Defense can be easily de-rouged by pursuing political options available to US administration. Most important among them is to end the discrimination between nuclear weapon states (NWSs) and non nuclear weapons states (NNWs) which prompt several NNWs to acquire nuclear weapons and their delivery systems to counter the threats of those possessed by US and its allies.

    His claim that technological failure had been the prime reason of the postponement should not hide many political flaws which impede as well the decision to pursue the deployment. Among them are Russian strong opposition to amend Anti Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty, Chaina�s deep concern over NMD and the proposed Taiwan TMD, hesitation of US allies and refusal of several of them to approve NMD, sharp criticism of other countries of US missile defense policy, condemnation of world public including many US constituencies, calls of prominent scientists to halt the project, and splits and differences in his administration and among members of his Democratic party over various aspects of the NMD project.

    These flaws, differences, refusals and oppositions should guide bodies and organisations of world community, governmental and non-governmental to double their efforts in order to prevent the next US President from pursuing the implementation of Ballistic Missile Defense systems.

  2. The Clinton remarks carried to US military three directives. In addition to his orders to postpone the deployment of NMD and to continue a robust program of development and testing to secure the feasibility of the system, he ordered his assistants to cooperate with the Russians in deploying Theater Missile defense (TMD), an imminent danger overlooked by many NGOs. Therefore The NMD system can be postponed but TMD will be deployed, and with Russian collaboration. He said in his remarks, �Russia agrees that there is an emerging missile threat. In fact given its place on the map, it is particularly vulnerable to this emerging threat � President Putin and I have agreed to intensity our work on strategic defense while pursuing, in parallel, deeper arms reduction in START III. He and I have instructed our experts to develop further cooperative initiatives in areas such as theater missile defense (TMD)�. In fact Russia adopted new positions in regard to BMD. Formerly, Soviet Union firmly opposed any form of BMD whereas Russia endorsed the deployment of TMD to neutralise missiles which may be launched by any other countries including former Soviet Republics (or nationalities) which may be hostile to Russian policies. At the same time its opposition to larger systems, similar to NMD, which violate the BMD Treaty, has continued since they will destablise the nuclear parity with US.

    Now, the possible collaboration between US and Russia in the production and deployment of TMD is a source of grave concern. It will lead to the proliferation of TMD in all regions and consequently to arms race among countries, big and small.

    This fact can be clearly exemplified by the current development in the Middle East (M.E). US already transferred the technology of TMD to Israel and with additional US financial assistance both were able to deploy the arrow TMD system to kill the missiles of their adversaries. This step prompted other countries of the region to acquire more ballistic missiles to compensate for those which will be killed. In turn, US made special efforts to convince other friendly countries particularly in the Gulf area to purchase US ready made TMDs of lesser technological quality in comparison with that deployed in Israel. Thanks to US technology the later is now conducting tests on arrow2 to develop the system and the circle of arms race will continue moving. If this process will not be halted an open ended chain of missile and missile defense systems will be deployed in the region and most of them will be purchased from corporate affiliated to US military industrial complex, chasing after profits.

    Other waves of arms race will take place in other regions where TMD will be deployed.

  3. Moreover NMD system may emerge in new form and function effectively by developing TMD system itself.

    The basic function of TMD and NMD is the same. They will kill or neutralise the missiles of the adversary and consequently the skies of the later will be opened, totally or partially, to the former missiles to act. They are very aggressive initiated for offensive operations to assure the success of both the first or the second nuclear strike. Differences between TMD and NMD is focused on one point: the former is designed to neutralise short and long range missiles, possessed by any country which may threaten US interests, whereas the later is designed to basically nautralise intercontinental long range missiles which may be launched by US or Russia.

    Also, the reason to prevent the deployment of TMD and NMD is the same. The ABM treaty was concluded in 1972 by US and the Soviet Union to prevent the deployment of any system similar to NMD which may neutralise intercontinental missiles. Consequently, both will be completely vulnerable to nuclear threats, a matter which obliged them to refrain from launching the missiles. The same can be said in regard to TMD with the exception of one focal point. There is no binding treaty similar to ABM, to prevent US or Russia or Israel from deploying TMD. The absent of such a treaty has prompted US to freely produce various systems of TMD, sea based, air based and land based, while the current NMD will be only land based.

    In addition tests are now conducted to produce portable TMDs, on land to broaden the areas of their operations and on naval units to support the operations of the Rapid Deployment Force carried by US fleets to project power over any country hostile to US interests.

    The kind if an anti-missile system (TMDs or the current NMD) is basically determined by its velocity, range and altitude. According to the agreement concluded in Helsinki, March, 21, 1997, between Clinton and Yltsen, TMDs are allowed to reach the velocity of five km/sec. and the range of 3500 kilometers, and can be deployed on land in air and in sea. Levels of flight into space was left for more negotiations. Any TMD system goes beyond certain limits of altitude, velocity and range can function as NMD with the help of long rang sensors and other technological devices. In addition, a portable TMD of this class deployed not far from Russian territories on naval units or in Europe will facilitate the new role of TMD. The possibility that US and Russia will agree on a new interpretation of the ABM treaty to allow such development should not be excluded.

    Now, more and more US leaders strongly support TMDs among them are Harold Brown, US former Defense Secretary, John Deutch and John White, former Under secretaries of Defense Department and several Senators. Even several leaders limit their support to TMD. (Other Systems Might Provide US Missile Shield, article, New-York Times, September 4, 2000)

  4. In spite of all these facts the greatest majority of NGOs in US and Europe focus their campaign against Ballistic Missile Defense on NMD system. It goes without saying that all NGOs in all continents must further their efforts to prevent the deployment of this systems. The future of START process hangs on the fate of these efforts. This is clear. But TMD, after certain adjustment, can do the same job. Also, arms race will escalate as a result of the deployment of the current TMDs.

    The USA, its military and transnational cooperation�s, are willing to deploy both systems to project power in all regions and on the entire planet, as well, by the year 2020, when all phases of the Ballistic Missile Defense project will be completed. Their target is to defend and promote the huge US investments, flows of capital and interests which will continuously move on the international highways of internets. It is neither rational nor understandable if NGOs will condemn part of the project while the other part will be left untouched. The result of this selective approach to problems of peace and disarmament is the fact that NMD deployment has been postponed whereas the first TMD was already deployed and the rest will follow suit.

    This discrimination and its consequences had been raised by the Arab Coordination Center of NGOs few weeks ago. Bruce Gagnon, Coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space advised the Arab Center to cooperate with NGOs in South Korea to secure more support for the Campaign against both TMD and NMD. They also are very concerned over the possible deployment of TMD on their territories, a threat to China and to all people of the North East Asia region. Few days after receiving his advice, this cooperation took place at a Seminar on nuclear weapon free zones (NWFZ) held in Uppsala, Sweden, September 1� 4, 2000. Dr Lee Samsung of the Catholic University of Korea brilliantly explained the detrimental impact of TMD on the security of North East Asia region, a new element will further impede the establishment of NWF2 in the region. In particular, he refers to the serious political development which will take place in the Korean peninsula, China and Japan.


Bahig Nassar of the Arab Center distributed a paper under the title �The first TMD Already Built in Israel� and explained in the course of the discussions the consequences of this step. When the Israeli delegation informed the Meeting that several Israeli experts are now of the opinion that their government should acknowledge the fact that other countries of the region will acquire nuclear weapons and their delivery systems and it should act accordingly, delegates started to deduce the consequences of this development. Israel will make every attempt to enhance its capacities to launch a second nuclear strike. It has already started to act in this direction. With TMD deployed by US to neutrlise the missile of its adversaries it started to equip the three submarine of dolphin�class provided by Germany with nuclear capable cruise missiles. The two steps will secure for Israel these capacities. Instead of negotiating with Arab countries to free the M.E. from weapons of mass destruction Israel is now adopting the strategy of the second strike.

Discussions on the dangerous consequences of TMD deployment has led the participants at the Seminar to call for the prevention of both TMD and NMD deployment. The Uppsala Declaration stressed that �Several regions continues to face severe nuclear dangers, a challenge exacerbated by menacing attempts to build both National and Theater Missile Defense systems�. Among the nine points of its operational part for actions, the Declaration emphasised that all participants should �. Commit themselves�. to opposing Theater and National Missile Defense systems as an integral part of our opposition to nuclear weapons�. Possibly this is the first event at which participants categorically and firmly reject both TMD and NMD. Among the participants at the Seminar are members of the Executive Committees of both Abolition 2000 Campaign and Middle Power Initiative, as well as delegates and leaders from CND, GRACE, Western State Legal Foundation, IPPNW, PSR, Lawyer�s Committee on Nuclear Policy, Pugwash, Transnational Institute, Dag Hammarskjold Foundation, the Acronym Institute, SIPRI, Physicians against Nuclear War, SPAS and from other Swedish institutes and AGOs, as well as, delegates from the Middle East, South Asia and North East Asia.

The Arab Coordination Center of NGOs appeal to them to commit them selves to the struggle against both TMD and NMD on their return to their organisations. Periorities are accepted. In the Middle East our priority is against TMD (already deployed in Israel), but never we close our eyes to the future dangers of NMD . Selective approach to the question of peace and disarmament is detrimental to the unity our international movement and should be rejected, because Peace is indivisible.

Regina Hagen

(See also Once more reviewing remarks ...)



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