Should the U.S. build a National Missile Defense System?

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Should the U.S. build a National Missile Defense System? “What if free people could live secure in the knowledge that their security didn’t depend upon the threat of instant U.S. retaliation to deter an enemy attack?” Ronald Reagan; 1983 In his speech of March 23, 1983, President Reagan presented his vision of a future where a Nation’s security did not rest upon the threat of nuclear retaliation, but on the ability to protect and defend against such attacks. The Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) research program was designed to tell whether, and how, advanced defense technologies could contribute to the feasibility of this vision. What is a national missile defense (NMD)? A NMD is in theory “a technological shield that could destroy all incoming missiles” (Cirincione and Von Hippel 1). A NMD would most likely employ ground-based missiles that would intercept and destroy incoming intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM). ICBMs are missiles that are capable of hitting targets thousands of miles away from their launch site. The National Missile Defense Act “calls for developing a missile-defense system that could protect the United States from an attack by a handful of nuclear armed ballistic missiles” (Ballistic Missile Defenses). It is important to realize the proposed NMD would not be designed to protect against an all out nuclear attack featuring hundreds of missiles. Is a NMD a good thing for the United States? I believe the United States should not develop and deploy a NMD system. How does the NMD work? According to the Federation of American Scientists at fas.org, there are five elements involved in the missile defense system. The first rudiment is the Ground Based Interceptors (GBI). These are the weapons of the system. Their job is to intercept ballistic missile warheads and through the force of impact, destroy them. The GBI includes the interceptor, its launch and support equipment, missile silos, and personnel. The missile is make of an EKV and boosters, and the GBI sites would be capable of holding 20 missiles with eventual upgrade to 100. The next part of the system is called the Battle Management Command and Control (BMC2). This is the brains of the system and it controls and operates the missile defense system. It provides decisive support systems, battle management systems and displays, and also situation awareness information. Satellites... ... middle of paper ... ...iew: Desirability and Feasibility of Ballistic Missile Defenses.” The Last Fifteen Minutes: Ballistic Missile Defense in Perspective. Ed. Joseph Cirincione and Frank Von Hippel. N.p.: Coalition to Reduce Nuclear Dangers, 1999. 6-15. Gordon, Michael R. “Russians Firmly Reject U.S. Plan to Reopen ABM Treaty.” New York Times. 21 Oct. 1999: A3. Hulme, Dr. Derrick. “Arms Control.” World Problems and Conflict. Alma College, Alma, MI. 17 Nov. 1999. Krepon, Michael. “Missile Defense: Not Such a Bad Idea.” The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. May-June. 1999: 31-33. Mendelsohn, Jack. “Missile Defense: And It Still Won’t Work.” The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. May-June. 1999: 29-31. National Academy of Sciences. The Future of U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 1997. Ray, James Lee. Global Politics. 7th ed. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1998. “Selling Russia on Missile Defense.” New York Times. 21 Oct. 1999: A24. “What Proponents of Missile Defense Argue and Rebuttals.” Council for a Livable World. n. pag. Online. Internet. 2 Nov. 1999. Available WWW: http://www.clw/org/ef/bmdrebuts.html. Federation of American Scientists – www.fas.org
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