News Release

Eighteen Years After “Star Wars” — What’s Behind NMD?

Today is the 18th anniversary of President Reagan’s announcement of his intention to begin a massive missile defense research program for the Strategic Defense Initiative. Reports are circulating today about a major reassessment of weapons systems by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who is a major proponent of National Missile Defense. The following analysts are available for interviews:

WILLIAM HARTUNG
Senior research fellow at the World Policy Institute and co-author of the recent report “Tangled Web: The Marketing of Missile Defense, 1994-2000,” Hartung said today: “The revival of NMD has everything to do with special interest lobbying by an unholy alliance of right-wing ideologues, cash-hungry contractors and militarists — and virtually nothing to do with any realistic threat of a ballistic missile attack against the United States…. The NMD system has failed two out of its three intercept tests — and experts like Theodore Postol from MIT have suggested that the third test was rigged…. The costs of deploying a missile defense system now will range anywhere from the General Accounting Office’s $60 billion estimate for the limited NMD system currently being tested, to $240 billion or more for the multi-layered approach that President Bush seems to support. In 18 years, the U.S. has spent more than $70 billion on the various mutations of missile defense, without producing a single workable device.”
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KARL GROSSMAN
Professor of journalism at the State University of New York/College at Old Westbury, Grossman wrote the forthcoming book Weapons in Space. He said today: “The recent report of the ‘Space Commission,’ chaired by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, is the blueprint for space warfare for the new Bush administration. It’s not just about missile defense. The report declares: ‘In the coming period the U.S. will conduct operations to, from, in and through space in support of its national interests both on the Earth and in space.’ The report states that it is ‘possible to project power through and from space in response to events anywhere in the world….’ Canada is leading a U.N. initiative to strengthen the Outer Space Treaty with a ban on all weapons in space, but our country opposes this.”
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LLOYD J. DUMAS
Author of Lethal Arrogance: Human Fallibility and Dangerous Technologies and professor of political economy at the University of Texas at Dallas, Dumas said today: “For a raft of technical and military reasons, ‘Star Wars’ never had a chance of protecting us against a Reagan-era large-scale missile attack. And in the post-Cold War world, it will not even protect against a small-scale attack from a ‘rogue’ state. NMD would be a Maginot Line in the sky. If a small, nuclear-armed state actually did want to attack, they would not do it by firing a long-range missile at the U.S. If they did that, its trajectory could be easily traced back to its source, and there would be devastating retaliation. They are more likely to attack by smuggling a nuclear weapon into the U.S…. NMD is likely to provoke reactions by countries that feel threatened, like China and Russia; that will reduce our security…. Our recent inability to detect and avoid a Japanese fishing vessel illustrates once again that we are unlikely to be able to implement this technology properly.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy: Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020