Flyby News Home - Flyby News Archives - Casinni NoFlyby - Flyby Links

Flyby  News

"News Fit to Transmit in the Post Cassini Flyby Era"

Clinton Punts Missile Defense Decision * But Calls for Work on TMD

The relationship of the fires in Montana to global warming has a long and twisted path that wanders from the burning of fossil fuels to deforestation. The cause and effect of accumulating greenhouse gases that trap the sun's warmth is leading dangerously closer to the lifeless CO2 atmospheric levels of Mars and Venus. National security protectors should recognize the task at hand. Some of the funds earmarked for missile defense should be used to support environmentally benign technologies and energy systems. The following news report that President Clinton is delaying the decision on employing a five-year commitment for missile defense is very good. However, following the AP report, is a press release by the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space. They are asking for people to press the issue and unite on October 7 with actions for peace in space. The threat remains.

Presidential candidate George Bush has made his pro-missile defense stance well-known, Al Gore is evasive. We should demand to know his stance on this critical issue. Two out of three tests that were set-up to secure a successful demonstration, failed. Why spend billions. President Clinton admits that it is a questionable technology that doesn't deal with protecting citizens from low-tech methods of delivering nuclear and chemical weapons.

The key to peace is peace in space.

Friday September 1 12:59 PM ET Clinton Punts Defense Decision
By ROBERT BURNS, AP Military Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Clinton, saying he lacks ``absolute confidence'' in existing technology, announced Friday he would leave to the next president - Vice President Al Gore (news - web sites) or Texas Gov. George W. Bush (news - web sites) - a decision on whether to begin deployment of a national missile defense.

In a speech at Georgetown University, Clinton said that by deferring a decision he aimed to ``maximize the ability'' of his successor to pursue a missile defense as part of a broader national security strategy.

``I am convinced that America and the world will be better off if we explore the frontiers of strategic defenses while continuing to pursue arms control, to stand with our allies and to work with Russia and others to stop the spread of deadly weapons,'' Clinton said.

Gore, the Democratic presidential nominee, has been noncommittal on whether there should be a national missile defense, saying he supported continued development work. Republican nominee Bush has said he would push hard
for a missile defense even more robust than the one currently on the drawing board.

``Today's announcement that President Clinton will leave this unfinished business for the next President underscores the fact that for seven years, the Clinton-Gore administration has failed to strengthen America's defenses,'' Bush asserted.

Gore said Clinton's decision allows time to more completely test the design of the missile defense system. ``I welcome the opportunity to be more certain that these technologies actually work together properly,'' he said.

Clinton stressed the importance of persuading Russia, whose nuclear arsenal is formidable but shrinking, that a U.S. national missile defense is not a threat to international stability. In Moscow, the Interfax news agency quoted Gen. Leonid Ivashov, head of the international military cooperation department of the Defense Ministry and one of the harshest critics of missile defense, as saying that Clinton's statement demonstrated that ``elements of constructiveness'' are visible in the U.S. administration.

Clinton's decision means he has opted not to authorize the Pentagon to award contracts to begin building a new high-powered radar in the Aleutian Islands, as part of a national missile defense. By putting off this initial step, Clinton effectively pushed the decision on finishing the project into the next presidency.

The decision came in the face of strong objections from Russia and reservations among many Democrats in Congress. The radar is an essential element of the missile defense system because it would track incoming warheads.

Work on other elements of national missile defense will go forward with additional testing of a ``kill vehicle'' to destroy warheads in flight and development of key components such as a new booster rocket, Clinton said.

British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook welcomed Clinton's decision, which, he said, ``has taken careful account of the views of the United States' allies and other international partners.''

Daryl Kimball of the Coalition to Reduce Nuclear Dangers, a vocal opponent of the national missile defense system, said: ``This outcome is the most prudent decision the president could make at this time.''

Defense Secretary William Cohen, perhaps the administration's strongest support of the system said Clinton's statement ``underscores the importance of having the next president fully involved in decisions regarding the future of the program before committing the United States to a deployment strategy. I support this approach.''

In his speech, Clinton said he was not assured that the United States has ``enough confidence in the technology'' to move forward with the project now. He asked Cohen to ``continue a robust program of testing'' to make sure the system will work properly.

``A national missile defense, if deployed, should be part of a larger strategy to preserve and enhance the peace, strength and security we now enjoy, and to build an even safer world,'' Clinton said. ``I have tried to maximize the ability of the next president to pursue that strategy.''

Clinton said his decision gives the United States time to work with the Russians to overcome their opposition to the system, and to court the support of U.S. allies.

``The United States and Russia still have nuclear arsenals that can devastate each other, and this is still a period of transition in our relationship,'' Clinton said. ``Therefore, for them, as well as for us, maintaining strategic stability increases trust and confidence on both sides; it reduces the risk of confrontation; it makes it possible to build an even better partnership, and an even safer world.''

Awarding the contracts for the work in Alaska this fall would have allowed the radar construction to begin next spring - a timetable that, on paper at least, would have kept the missile defense project on track to completion by 2005.

By putting off the initial step, Clinton in effect has pushed back the 2005 target date by at least one year.

In previous public comments on missile defense, Clinton had never given a clear signal of what course he would take. In a May 31 news conference he seemed to indicate that missile defense was justified by a growing threat, not from Russia or China but from so-called ``rogue states'' like North Korea.

``Is there a threat which is new and different? The answer to that, it seems to me, is plainly, yes, there is, and there will be one.''

The proposed national missile defense, projected to cost about $60 billion, is designed to protect all 50 states against attack by a limited number of long-range ballistic missiles from North Korea or the Middle East. It is a scaled-down version of the global missile defense pursued during the Reagan administration that came to be known as Star Wars for its focus space-based lasers and other exotic weaponry.

In weighing his decision, Clinton faced conflicting pressures. Republicans in Congress have pushed hard for years for a national missile defense, and last year they gained passage of a law requiring the Pentagon to deploy such a system as soon as ``technologically feasible.'' The anti-missile testing program, however, has suffered numerous technological setbacks, including a failed flight test in July.




CONTACT: Bruce Gagnon (352)337-9274

The decision by President Clinton to hand-off any deployment of the National Missile Defense (NMD) system to his successor is a welcomed turn in an otherwise twisted road that still points toward the danger of an arms race in space.

While the president admitted that "I cannot conclude that we have enough confidence in the move forward to deployment," he did state that the Pentagon would continue with 16 more NMD tests at $100,000 each. Clinton maintained that there was not a net loss in his decision as a "delay won't affect the 2006-2007 timetable for deployment."

Close scrutiny of Clinton's speech revealed a call for the Pentagon to work closely with Russia on the development of Theater Missile Defense (TMD) that would enable the U.S. to strike launched missiles in their boost-phase. Long-time avid proponent of Star Wars, Rep. Kurt Weldon (R.-PA.) while critical of Clinton's NMD decision did praise his call for TMD development.

"This fight is not over by any means. We now have Clinton talking about Theater Missile Defense and we know that the Pentagon will begin its space-based laser testing program here in the U.S. in coming months. We must build on this victory and continue to work to shut down all research, development, and testing of Star Wars," said Bruce Gagnon, Coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space.

Acknowledging that European opposition was key to the delay, Clinton also made clear that his administration and the next would need to "complete" efforts to get the consent of the Europeans on the necessary upgrades on U.S. radar systems that will coordinate a new Star Wars program.

"While not mentioned by the president as a reason for delay, it is vital that we salute the collective efforts of grassroots peace groups around the world who have rallied to apply pressure on Clinton/Gore and their own governments in recent months," Gagnon said.

The Global Network is now coordinating a vigorous international campaign in coming months tht will include: October 7, 2000 INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PROTEST TO STOP THE MILITARIZATION OF SPACE. Protests are planned throughout the U.S. and around the world.
For details and more activities check the Global Network's web site at:


Email address: