Reflections on the 1972 Antiballistic Missile Treaty and National Missile Defense   [open pdf - 114KB]

The United States announced its withdrawal from the Antiballistic Missile Treaty (ABM Treaty) in 2002. Major Ruse's examination of how the treaty restricted the development of our national missile defense system helps us understand what the withdrawal means for the future. The Treaty had been adopted during the Cold War, to avert a possible nuclear war and curb the nuclear arms race. Logic held that if each nation remained defenseless to a nuclear attack and if nuclear retaliation to a first strike were guaranteed, then neither nation would have any motivation to consider launching a nuclear strike. The treaty codified MAD, which prevailed until the fall of communism and the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. Against this brief background of the ABM Treaty, one needs to explore why it became such a hot issue after three decades. The answer lies within a framework of political and technological developments as well as a revised security environment. The Cold War is over, and the US must develop new legal, strategic, political, and technological means appropriate for today's global security environment. An NMD system does not yet exist, butt hopefully its inevitable deployment will spark fresh thinking about the strategic shape of our future world and contribute to a secure environment for future generations.

Public Domain
Media Type:
Aerospace Power Journal, Spring 2002, v. 16, no. 1
Help with citations