Counter Measures


Counter Measures Essay, Research Paper

National Missile Defense (NMD) is once again a growing concern in America.

There have been many new developments since the post-Cold War elimination of

nuclear warfare. This diminishing of arms however, is a very fine line. The

United States cannot afford to have less capability then the rest of the world,

but it does want to encourage unilateral non-proliferation of nuclear arms. In

addition, there is a new awareness of ?rogue? nations that are completely

unpredictable. Since the post-Cold War the United States has been able to rely

on the major nations and more or less predict if they are a threatening

adversary or not. In any case, this doubt has caused the new investigation of a

possible deployment of a National Missile Defense. This movement is a huge

strategic, technical, and political decision. The consequences of such a

decision will indeed effect the next generations. In the recent decades many

treaties have come to rise, all of which have played an important part in the

growing concern of nuclear arms and the defense of American soil.


The history of ballistic missile defense is much involved and began shortly

after World War II. In the 1950?s the Soviet Union was able to deploy

submarine-based missiles capable of hitting the United States. In the 1960?s

this same arsenal appeared and expanded rapidly to land based systems. These

moves by the Soviet Union spurred a huge need for ballistic missile defense

programs in the U.S. In 1972 President Nixon and General Secretary Brezhnev

signed the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty. This forbids a nationwide

missile defense between the United States and Russia. The treaty called for each

country to build two sites that could attempt to protect limited areas. In 1974,

it was amended allowing for:

? Each may only have on missile defense deployment site with that site

prohibited from providing a nationwide missile defense system or becoming the

basis for developing one

? At the allowed site, no more than 100 launchers/missiles may be deployed

and guidance radars must be within a circle with a diameter of 150 kilometers

? New early warning radars may only be deployed on the periphery of national

territory and oriented outward

? Non-nationwide missile defense systems may not be given nationwide

capability or tested in a nationwide mode

? The transfer of missile defense components to and deployment in foreign

countries is prohibited

? Development, testing, or deployment of sea-based, air-based, mobile

land-based, or space-based missile defense systems and their components is


During the Cold War, this treaty proved effective because both nations

understood that a building of missile defense encourages offensive force. As

long as the capability of defending oneself against nuclear attack was

preserved, each would be deterred from attacking the other. Limited national

defense programs such as President Johnson?s ?Sentinel? system followed

the previous Presidential systems of the ?Nike X? and ?Nike Zeus?

programs. All of these were redesigned by Nixon?s ?Safeguard? initiative.

On October 1, 1975, the Safeguard System using interceptors with nuclear warhead

tips were deployed. However in January of the following year, the House of

Representatives and the Senate voted to close it down because the nuclear-tipped

interceptors would blind Safeguard?s own radar systems for navigation. These

systems repeatedly failed to develop a missile defense that could cope with

long-range missile attacks. The security of the American people was at stake.

Because each was lacking a capable defense, a race started in the build-up of

tens of thousands of nuclear warheads.

The United States and Russia maintained large nuclear arsenals of strategic

and tactical nuclear weapons. In the late 1970?s the Intermediate-Range

Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty arose between the United States and Russia. For over

ten years there was debate over the specifics of what the treaty was to include.

Each nation was reluctant to give up their new technologies that they had given

so much time and money in developing. However after years of confusion and

frustration, President Reagan and General Secretary Gorbachev signed the treaty

at a summit meeting in Washington on December 8, 1987. At the time of its

signature, the Treaty?s verification regime was the most detailed and

stringent in the history of nuclear arms control, designed both to eliminate all

declared INF systems entirely within three years of the Treaty?s entry into

force and to ensure compliance with the total ban of possession and use of these

missiles. This included the required destruction of the Parties?

ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of between 500 and

5,500 kilometers, their launchers and associated support structures and support

equipment. The Treaty entered into force upon the exchange of instruments of

ratification in Moscow on June 1, 1988. On December 25, 1991, the Soviet Union

was disbanded and therefore the treaty needed to be reaffirmed. The United

States sought to secure continuation of full implementation of the INF Treaty

regime and to multilateralize the INF Treaty with twelve former Soviet

republics. Of the twelve, six including Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia,

Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan have INF facilities and are participants

of the Treaty. Of important mention is the inspection process by which these

countries adhere. All members of the INF Treaty have agreed to on-site

inspections, short-notice inspections of declared and formerly declared

facilities, and elimination inspections to confirm elimination of INF systems in

accordance with agreed procedures.

Although the United States? and the former Soviet Union?s arsenals have

declined substantially from their Cold War peaks, both still remain at levels

far in excess of any reasonable current military requirement. The United States

is helping Russian military safely dismantle much of its nuclear arsenal. From a

peak of nearly 70,000 nuclear warheads in the late 1980?s the total number of

U.S. and Russian warheads has declined to about 30,500 today. The Strategic Arms

Reduction Treaty (START) was drafted in 1991 and entered into force in 1994;

this treaty reduced strategic nuclear arsenals including land-based long-range

missiles, submarine-launched ballistic missiles, heavy bombers, warheads for

strategic land and sea-based missiles, and heavy bombers built up during the

Cold War. The START process has substantially reduced the Russian nuclear threat

to the United States. Because of START I, the United States and Russia are each

dismantling approximately 2,000 nuclear warheads every year. START II was then

proposed and signed in 1993 and entered into US force in 1997. Russia ratified

it this past year. It cut arsenals to 3,500 or fewer deployed strategic weapons

on each side. At the same time the United States and Russia are discussing a

START III, which could lead to even further cuts. In that treaty, Russia and the

United States may agree that warheads cut will be accompanied by the verified

dismantlement of the decommissioned weapons and the transfer of their fissile

material to monitored storage to prevent reuse in other weapons. After START

III, China, the United Kingdom, and France, as well as India, Pakistan and

Israel, may also be brought into the nuclear arms control process. Far more

missiles have been destroyed through diplomacy in recent years than any missile

defense system could ever hope to intercept.

Another political movement to curb nuclear warfare is the Missile Technology

Control Regime (MTCR). This is a voluntary agreement that seeks to stop the

transfer of the delivery systems of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). These

systems include missiles, unmanned air vehicles, and related technology capable

of carrying a 500-kilogram payload a distance of at least 300 kilometers.

Currently 32 countries participate in the MTCR including Ukraine, Russia,

Argentina, Brazil, South Africa, China and Japan.

Current Situation

Currently the United States does not seem to have a firm assessment of where

it want to take its National Missile Defense program. There are huge factors to

weigh in the decision. Looking back for the Cold War days, the United States

knows that any National Missile Defense program deployed could result in a

Chinese Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) build-up, a nuclear arms race

in South Asia, and pressure on countries like Japan and South Korea to build

their own nuclear weapons. Many of the treaties and understandings that have

kept the nuclear peace for forty-five years may be lost forever. Thus, this

decision is of the utmost importance.

On September 1st of this year President Clinton declined the United States?

move toward a deployment of the proposed ?limited? national missile defense.

The Clinton Administration had previously proposed to have a working system by

late 2005. His decision was based on four main criteria: the readiness of

technology, the impact of deployment on arms control and relations with Russia,

the cost of the system, and the threat.

The readiness of technology played a huge role in President Clinton?s

decision. Effective missile defense can be compared with hitting a bullet with a

bullet. Warheads of long-range missiles travel at speeds of up to 15000mph. The

US proposal calls for a ?kinetic kill? in which the interceptor must hit the

warhead. In February 1998 the Pentagon appointed a panel to review the national

missile defense programs. This panel found ?a rush to failure? approach was

being undertaken. In 1999 that same panel was asked to reassess the program.

Once again the program found the Pentagon?s approach to be extremely risky

stating, ?the DRR should be regarded more as feasibility decision with some

long-term deployment actions rather than a readiness decision.? In February

2000 the Pentagon?s Director of Operational Testing and Evaluation express

similar concerns. Namely that ?unrealistic pressure? is being placed on this

defense system because it is ?schedule driven? rather than event driven. It

called for more time and a more thorough analysis.

So the question arises, ?What makes a national missile defense system

technically ready?? The Clinton Administration said that it must:

? The involved technology must be mature; it must work on a basic level

? It must operate effectively in the real world and work against several

missile equipped with readily-available countermeasures

? It must be fully reliable and work consistently

The Pentagon plans to conduct 19 intercept tests prior to completing

deployment of the national missile defense in 2005. However, only three were

conducted prior to Clinton?s decision. The first on October 2, 1999, test only

the exoatmospheric kill vehicle. This is the part that actually hits the

incoming warhead. No ground-based radars, satellite-based infrared sensors, and

communications systems were integrated into the test. Instead, a global

positioning transmitter was attached to the booster to pinpoint it own location.

In addition a balloon decoy was launched with the mock warhead. The test results

conclude that the interceptor found the balloon from space and thus was able to

find the mock warhead. However, the balloon was much larger than the warhead and

many testers doubt that the interceptor would have been able to find the warhead

had the balloon decoy not be launched as well.

The second test on January 18, 2000 provided terrible results. The kill

vehicle failed to hit the mock warhead. In this test, the ground-based radars

were used, along with the battle management system. According to the Pentagon, a

malfunction in the infrared sensors caused the miss. The third test, was yet

another failure. The diagram below explains what should have occurred versus

what actually occurred.

1) A modified Minuteman II intercontinental ballistic missile carrying a mock

warhead and a decoy was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., around

9:15 p.m. Pacific Time.

2) Space-based and ground-based radar attempt to detect, identify and track

the simulated threat.

3) Some 20 minutes later, the intercepting "kill vehicle" was

launched on a missile from Kwajelein Atoll, about 4,300 miles away in the

southern Pacific Ocean. The kill vehicle was supposed to separate from the

missile, but failed to do so.

4) Sensors on the kill vehicle were to have guided it toward the target

warhead, rather than the decoy. The two objects were supposed to collide at

12,000 miles per hour, 140 miles above the Pacific Ocean.

This apparent technological insufficiency helped lead Clinton to the decision

to decline the implementation of the national missile defense.

The second criterion that was evaluated was the impact of development of arms

control. Since the Cold War, many treaties have been signed and understandings

have been made. With the US possibly developing a national missile defense, the

stable balance that has been yearned for will again be interrupted. To build

such a defense, the United States must get either Russian agreement to modify

the ABM Treaty, or withdraw from it. Currently, the United States wants to

preserve the Treaty because the US Administration feels it is the ?cornerstone

of strategic stability.?

Yet the initial phase of the Clinton?s Administration?s propose national

missile defense would violate the ABM Treaty in three ways:

1) The system attempts to protect the entire territory of either country

2) It will deploy interceptors in Alaska besides the one in North Dakota

3) Upgrading and deployment of radar systems around the globe to strengthen

early warning and guidance capabilities

These are just the first phase. The second phase of the system would violate

even more requirements because of the 250 interceptors in Alaska and North

Dakota and more radars and satellites. However, the Clinton Administration

contends that these moves are fully consistent with the intent and purpose of

the ABM Treaty.

This contention is viewed by Russia as a shaky situation. In February 2000,

Secretary of State Albright met with Russian President Putin and he stated that

he might consider modifications to the Treaty, as long as its fundamental

principles were maintained. Yet in June, the 2000 Clinton-Putin summit in Moscow

showed no hint of such an agreement. The most likely avenue for Russian

agreement on ABM Treaty changes would be an exchange for US concessions on START

III. Russia may to agree if the warhead limit set in START III was reduced to

1500. However the US resists this idea.

Even if the US and Russia can make an agreement on this matter, the US would

likely face a backlash against missile defense from China and still may face

strong questions from US allies such as France and Germany. The Chinese reaction

is crucial because Chinese leaders have expressed strong opposition to US

proposals to missile defense. Sha Zukang, director of the arms controlled

department of the Chinese ministry of foreign affairs stated:

Some enthusiastic advocates of national missile defense in the US have

repeatedly claimed that China is a main target for the development of national

missile defense by the US, because they think national missile defense, with its

limited capacity?may be very effective if used to guard against the potential

threat posed by China?s limited nuclear capability. This kind of Cold War

logic will seriously undermine the positive coordination and cooperation between

China and the United States in relevant fields over the years. Furthermore, if

the situation so demands, China will have no choice but to review a series of

policies on arms control, disarmament, and prevention of proliferation.

China is already in the process of slowly modernizing its nuclear arsenal to

include longer-range missiles, some with multiple warheads. The pace and size of

these increases, along with the use of countermeasures, could be accelerated in

response to deployment of a US national missile defense.

A larger Chinese arsenal could also pressure Japan, South Korea, Pakistan,

and India to react with their own subsequent measures. In addition, Western

allies have also expressed concern about US deployment of a national missile

defense system. Primarily they are concerned with a new arms race and increased

tensions with Russia.

Along with wreaking havoc on the nuclear arms reduction process the US

abrogation of the ABM Treaty could dangerously undermine the non-proliferation

regime. Under the NPT the five declared nuclear weapon states?China, France,

Russia, The United Kingdom, and the United States?agreed to pursue nuclear

disarmament. This is a major concern because the US has been attempting to

persuade China, North Korea, India, and Pakistan to ratify their testing of

nuclear weapons.

In essence if the US builds a national missile defense system, new threats

will arise and the post-Cold War structure for controlling nuclear and missile

technology and weapons will be undone. Prospects for mutual, cooperative steps

to reduce nuclear dangers outside the treaty process would also diminish


The cost of the national missile defense is an overwhelmingly difficult issue

for the American people. Since 1983, the US has spent $69 billion and yet no

system has ever been fielded. Almost all of the money has gone towards the

research and development of potential systems, rather to their production. In

May 2000, the Congressional Budget Office reported that the Clinton?s

Administration?s proposal would cost almost $30 billion for just its first

phase and $60 billion for phases thereafter.

The main reason for the Clinton Administration to propose a ?limited?

national defense was to cut cost. They understood why the Strategic Defense

Initiative was shut down, and wanted to avoid such a drop. Despite the Clinton

Administration?s efforts, the Pentagon generally tends to underestimate

development and acquisition costs by 15 to 20 percent. In looking at national

missile defense, past estimates have been underestimated by as much as 30


Then the issue arises of cost effectiveness. The US spends more annually on

missile defense than the estimated total military budgets of North Korea and

Iraq combined. Even so North Korea can be expected to afford technologies that

may render the initial phase of US defense ineffective. This is true no matter

how large a defense system the United States builds. Offense is always cheaper

than defense.

The fourth and final criterion is the threat that the US has from other

countries deploying nuclear missile attacks. Russia maintains 2,000 strategic

nuclear warheads on high alert, together capable of destroying the United States

in under an hour. No plausible missile defense could defend such an attack. The

national missile defense proposed is not designed to counter such an attack;

instead it is designed to stop a threat by a few tens of warheads. Such an

attack could come from North Korea, Iran, and Iraq, or from an inadvertent

launch by Russia or China.

Currently Iran and Iraq are not in the position to launch such efforts. North

Korea has willingly agreed to freeze its missile flight test program while

discussions with the United States continue. In addition Argentina and Brazil

were competitively pursuing nuclear weapons in the late 1980?s and early 1990?s.

However, diplomatic persuasion led both countries to end their search.

Economic factors also have reduced the threat from many countries. During the

Gulf War the Allies bombed the Iraqi oil refineries, which cut their national

revenue, causing less nuclear development.

The biggest concern of foreign threat is the new formation of ?rogue?

nations. The presumption is that these nations are irrational. They will develop

missiles capable of hitting the United States and use them despite the almost

certain devastating consequences. A January 19, 2000 statement by US Deputy

Secretary of Defense John Hamre explains why North Korea is a threat:

North Korea is a legitimate source of worry about a surprise missile attack,

since it has invested heavily in developing a long-range missile capability,

even though no on is threatening it and even while many of its people are

starving. There is no rational reason why North Korea, with the economic straits

that they are in, would choose such a provocative thing to do. This is a country

that doesn?t care about the opinion of the international community and

therefore must be judged capable of attacking the United States unprovoked.

With this view, the United States has little choice of how to deal with North

Korea. It is a dictatorship with a large army. It also is a leading concern in

the proliferation of nuclear warheads because it exports missiles. Its

leadership is isolated and difficult to work with. It has engaged in terrorist

activities, and it frequently violates minor military provocations against South

Korea. In this light, the US must build a national missile defense.

Another threat addressed by Clinton?s Administration is a terrorist?s

ransom. If the leader of a country blackmailed the US by aiming a nuclear

missile at a US city, the US would have to make a decision about the true

capability. Is it a bluff or not? They would have to comply or be ready to

launch their own defense. For example, the question arises if the US would have

attacked Iraq if Saddam Hussein had had a nuclear-tipped missile. To avoid this

contingency, the argument is that the US should build a ?limited? nationwide

missile defense.

In looking at the broader perspective of threats, the United States is a very

fortunately country. We have huge oceans on either side so there are few threats

to its soil. This long distance from threatening countries focuses the threats

that the United States will encounter to missiles. The Clinton Administration

contends that while dangers exist within the boarders like the bombing at the

World Trade Center and Oklahoma City, the US has interests and allies around the

globe. In addition, US security as a whole depends not only on military force,

but also on financial ties, trade relations, and international cooperation. The

US is inextricably linked to the global economy.

For these reasons, the Clinton Administration proposed a ?limited?

national missile defense system. Yet, as a closer look was given to these four

main criteria, it became apparent that the US is not currently ready for such a

system. The consequences and uncertainties in all four of these factors played a

huge role in the decision process. On September 1, 2000, President Clinton

announced that he would delay the national missile defense. He urged the US

Armed Forces to continue in their develop of new technologies that might make

such an advancement possible, but ultimately reserved the national missile

defense?s future for the next President. Whether Al Gore or George Bush

officially wins this next election, one will most likely decide the fate of the

national missile defense. One will have to weigh the evidence and conclusions

drawn by these three tests and these four criteria.


Countermeasures to a nuclear attack on the United States have been a major

focus of the United States for nearly 40 years. In many cases the suspected ICBM?s

and other traditional methods may not be used in a nuclear attack on the US. As

early as 1964 the US was reportedly was spending 300-400 million dollars on

countermeasures. The Union of Concern Scientists has done an exhaustive study on

countermeasures against ground based, terminal phased missile defense systems.

?Countermeasures? can be summarized in two main claims:

1) ?Simple? countermeasures will defeat the US National Missile Defense

system in its presently proposed configuration.

2) Any rouge state that could mobilize the human and technological resources

to develop a nuclear tipped long-ranged ballistic missile would have no

difficulty in developing and deploying.

Before discussing the technical issues and countermeasures, it is important

to note that critics of ?Countermeasures? state that the NMD configuration

is not frozen in its current design features. There argument is that no major

weapon system is ever static: it grows and evolves from its original base line

configuration in response to its growth of threats. Thus, from their point of

view, it is reasonable to assume that the US designers will react to the new

challenging countermeasures.

When discussing the vulnerability of the United States and ?simple?

countermeasures, ?simple? is the chosen word because the implementation of

such a measure because of the relative easiness there is when comparing to

building an ICBM with a nuclear warhead. In short, to build an ICBM there must

exist highly experience scientists and engineers all with vast abilities. If

this is the case and such technicians are available, then the progression to

implementation would in fact be simple.

?Countermeasures? discusses many different ways in which missiles could

bypass our defense system and hit US soil. These different methods are debated

frequently. Some say that they are feasible today, yet others argue that most if

not all are not realistic today. In any case, this exhaustive study does not

include certain more secretive ways of targeting the United States with nuclear

warheads. For instance, if countries were to attack the United States by way of

the United States Postal Service or some other mail carrier. If a warhead can be

made, certainly it can be smuggled into the US borders. Also, it could be

transported via ship cargo. As mentioned before, the World Trade Center and

Oklahoma City bombing never should have happened. These incidents should not

have been possible. Yet, they did occur. They did take the lives of innocent

Americans. So what is to be done? How can the United States defend against such

a childish and cowardly act?

In March 1995, US Customs agents in Miami launched a two-year undercover

investigation reaching into high-level official circles in Russia, Bulgaria and

Lithuania. It would become the first credible case of a scenario to smuggle

tactical nuclear weapons into the United States. Although the undercover

officials obtained many arms, no nuclear weapons could be brought back because

U.S. national security policy prohibits any sting operation that might bring

nuclear devices or material onto American soil. In the end, evidence was

provided to the US government that such dealings could, in fact, occur.

The source of these cowardly attacks will most likely be from former Soviet

Union missiles. During the political break up into individual nations, much

conflict arose that allowed for the stealing of nuclear weapons and equipment.

Chris Wallace, Chief Correspondent of ?20/20? interviewed a black market

nuclear arms dealer, Tatiana, for Primetime Live television. In the interview

goes as follows:

Chris Wallace: So if I come to Moscow and I have enough money, what can I


Tatiana: Everything.

Chris Wallace: Everything? Uranium?

Tatiana: No problem.

Chris Wallace: Plutonium?

Tatiana: Yes

Chris Wallace: Nuclear Triggers?

Tatiana: No trouble. Without any problem.

Chris Wallace: You?re saying that I can buy the materials.

Tatiana: In order to do good bombs. Yes.

This interview shows the terrible resources available in Russia. It can

reasonably be assumed that such areas of the world are not only limited to

Russia. Some say that Germany is another possibility. Despite how many areas

provide such resources, one would be enough to cause serious problems to the

United States. If one thing is certain, merely one nuclear warhead can cause

catastrophic damage.

So then what is the United States to do? How can they stop such

countermeasures to the national defense? Is it possible? It is terribly

difficult to find answers to such a difficult question. No American politician

wants to address such a problem because there seems to be no solution. No one

wants to be the bearer of bad news. It is essentially an unspoken area.

Regardless of possible countermeasures, the United States seems to feel that

some type of National Missile Defense is necessary. How much or how little is

still a question to be answered. Advocates of a new NMD would argue that the

lives of the American people are at stake and therefore little concern should be

given to a price. They see an American dream that should be preserved and an

American dominance that should continue as the global leader in the pursuance of

active defense. There are still those however, who seem to see the practicality

of a NMD. They reflect upon the history of missile defense systems and see

previous failed versions and the growing costs of such new initiatives. They

know the test results of the first three Pentagon tests and doubt the highly

sophisticated technology involved in the process. They may also even know the

treaties that the United States has signed, and in some cases drafted, and the

US can only continue with new programs if they rewrite these treaties or back

out of them. In any case, it will take rigorous meetings to maintain balance and

control of the world?s pursuance in similar defensive and offensive

strategies. These critics also see the countermeasures and loopholes available

to those who really want to attack the United States. So these two sides are to

be weighed by the next President of the United States.


Biden, Senator Joseph R. Jr. The Disturbing Trend of Judicial Imperialism and

The Unreliability of a National Missile Defense System. ?A Choice for the

Generations: Presidential Election 2000.? August 2000.

Countermeasures: A Technical Evaluation of the Operational Effectiveness of

the Planned US National Missile Defense System. Union of Concerned Scientists.

MIT Studies Program: April 2000.

Rubin, Uzi. ?Comments on the UCS Report on Countermeasures.? July 2000.

Ruppe, David. ?Key Missile Defense Test Under Way.?

ABC News Internet Ventures: July 7, 2000.

?Russian Nuclear Smuggling.? Trade and Environment Database.

Case Number 271, Case Mnumonic: NUKESMUG, Case Name: Russian Nuclear Smuggling.

American University: 2000.

Wilkening, Dean A. ?How Much Ballistic Missile Defense Is Too Much??

CISAC: October 1998.

Young, Stephen W. Pushing the Limits: The Decision on National Missile

Defense. Coalition to Reduce Nuclear Dangers: July 2000 (second printing).

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