Missile Defence

Posted in Other | 11-Aug-04 | Author: Dieter Farwick

A prototype exoatmospheric kill vehicle.

After years of controversial discussion over US resolve to build a missile defence system, the topic has almost disappeared.

The “war on terror” and the conflict in Iraq dominate media coverage. News that the US is discussing with various countries the right to dislocate parts of the necessary early warning system does not gain much attention. Even countries such as Russia and China – who had strongly opposed the US plan - do not have this topic high on their agendas. The nature of the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11th and March 11th do not underline the need for missile defence.

It is academic to discuss the probability and the likelihood of an attack with ballistic missiles armed with weapons of mass destruction (WMD) against US territory or US installations and US citizens abroad. It is a fact of life that such attacks are feasible. There are countries in the world that own the necessary assets. These countries still develop far-reaching ballistic missiles and WMD. The greatest concern regards those assets that are in the hands of terrorist organizations located in so-called failed states.

The US can obviously afford to build this system as planned. An operational ballistic missile defence system in the US and in selected partner countries all over the world would change the strategic landscape again. It would be a change from a policy based mainly upon deterrence to a policy based primarily on denial. Even not knowing whether the system will really work in case of a massive attack would make it a kind of “fleet in being”.

We are able to offer an analysis about the possible impact of US ballistic missile defence in Asia written by experts of the International Institute for Strategic Studies(IISS) in London.