What If Moscow Has Its Own SDI?

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What If Moscow Has Its Own SDI?

November 2, 1989 20 min read Download Report
Richard Fisher
Distinguished Fellow in China Policy

(Archived document, may contain errors)

733 November 2,1989 I i WHAT IF MOSCOW HAS ITS OWN SDI I INTRODUCTION I The Soviet Union suddenly has begun admitting all kinds of things it vigorously and long denied: that the Krasnoyarsk radar violates a United States-Sov iet treaty; that the invasion of Afghanistan was illegal and wrong.

Now it is time for Moscow to admit something else that is absolutely true that the Soviet Union had been working on its own strategic defense long before Americas Strategic Defense Initia tive was unveiled in 1983 I In fact, the Soviet Union has been at work on its strategic defenses since Stalinstime and barely slowed its effort even after the 1972 U.S.-Soviet Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty limiting deployment of missile defenses.

Th ough Moscow has complied with at least some of theTreatys provisions by not deploying a nationwide missile defense system, it is conceivable that the Soviets could break out of the ABM Treaty for a major build-up of ballistic missile defenses. After all, M oscows opposition to the U.S. Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) program has been driven not by hostility to strategic defenses in principle but by the fear that the U.S. may beat the USSR in a race toward deployment of space-based defenses. Should the So v iets be the first to build a large-scale, nationwide defense system composed mainly of land-based interceptors, U.S. security would be gravely jeopardized by an American SDI system is a mounting possibility as the SDI program becomes increasingly troubled . Congress has cut the SDI budget by $5.6 billion over the past five years, and this fiscal year, is allowing no real growth in spending. At the same time Soviet investment in strategic programs is setting records. Warns Secretary of Defense Richard Cheney in this years Setting Records. The deployment of Soviet strategic defenses unmatched I I I I edition of Soviet Military Power: The most striking feature of Soviet military power today is the extraordinary momentum of its offensive strategic nuclear force m odernization. New additions to the Soviet intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) force include 58 SS-24s and 170 SS-Zs, most of which are mobile. Meanwhile, according to the Pentagon, Moscow spent some $4 billion last year on procuring ctive strategic defenses, including air defenses aircraft, and missile defenses. A reduction in SDI funding could kill the U.S program while the Soviet SDI continues to grow.

A deployment of effective strategic defense systems by Moscow would shift the global balance of p ower in the Soviet favor, unless America has its own strategic defenses. A Soviet strategic defense monopoly would undermine the credibility of U.S. deterrence by limiting the effect of American retaliatory forces. In Europe, the ability of U.S. forces to deter a Sovietxonventional attack would be jeopardized gravely because the U.S. strategic nuclear deterrent, which backs up NATO conventional forces, would be of questionable value. Depending on the effectiveness of Soviet defenses, even the U.S. ability to deter Soviet strikes against the U.S. homeland would be undermined.The Soviets could launch a first strike against the U.S while their defensive system would limit the damage to Soviet territory caused by a U.S. retaliatory strike.

To ensure that it doe s not one day find itself unprepared in the face of a Soviet ballistic missile defense, the U.S. should Continue to modernize its offensive missile force, with particular emphasis on giving U.S. ballistic missiles the ability to penetrate Soviet strategic defenses. This requires the U.S. to deploy maneuverable warheads reentry vehicles) or MARVs that move on their own power to evade enemy missile interceptors. It also requires deployment of so-called penetration aids such as decoys that are also placed on missiles and are used to confuse and thwart enemy missile interceptors Increase the number of its bombers and cruise missiles. A ballistic missile defense is not designed to intercept and destroy these weapons.

Having an ample inventory of bombers and crui se missiles would enable the U.S. to retaliate successfully against a Soviet attack even if the USSR is defended with ballistic missile defenses Conduct a robust strategic defense research and development program, balanced between near and far-term techno l ogies. This will ensure that the U.S. is ready for any contingency. A balanced SDI program focusing on exotic space-based defense systems as well as less advanced ground-based systems, suitable for near-term and mid-term deployment could prepare the U.S. f or a rapid deployment by Soviet missile defenses 1 1 Department of Defense, Soviet Militcuy Pow6 1989 (Washington, D.C U.S. Government Printing Office 1989 p. 5 2 Department of Defense, Annual Report to Congress, Fiscal Year 1990 (Washington, D.C U.S. Gov ernment Printing Ofice, 1989 p. 16.

I I Equally important is to prepare for the rapid procurement of strategic defense systems, should the Soviets break out or be detected as preparing to break out of the ABM Treaty. This would require that the U.S. provid e needed funds to test such SDI components as space-based and ground-based missile interceptors, sensors, and battle management systems so that prototypes could be rapidly developed and reliable systems actually built if the need arose defenses. Moscow is developing and deploying missile defenses in ways that in several instances violate restrictions of the ABM Treaty. Under international law, the U.S. has the right to respond proportionately to such Soviet violations. Responses could include testing SDI w eapons in space which otherwise might be restricted by the ABM Treaty Point to MOSCOWS own SDI research to bolster the U.S. position in arms control negotiations.

The Soviets have often claimed that SDI is destabilizing and blocks progress on arms control. The Bush Administration should stress to the Soviets, publicly and privately, that their own development of missile defenses belies their public criticisms of SDI. The Soviets, it appears, are not against all strategic defenses -they are only against the American SDI program. The Administration also should state that the deployment of strategic defenses is compatible with agreements to limit offensive weapons, and that it will improve the prospects for agreements to reduce offensive forces because such de fenses will provide an insurance policy against violations of such agreements 0 Respond to Moscows development and deployment of missile SOVIET STRATEGIC DEFENSES Over the years Moscow has invested heavily in strategic defense forces.

Soviet ABM research began during Stalins time simultaneously with the launching of research on offensive ballistic missiles. In fact, the Soviet interest in missile defenses can be traced as far back as the late 1940s, when Moscow pressed thousands of Ger m an scientists and prisoners of war into work on the first comprehensive air defense force, dubbed PVO-Strany which was to defend the Soviet homeland against the full range of threats from the air. By 1961, a vigorous ballistic missile defense-research and development program was underway, focusing on radars, interceptors, and data-processing for command and control. About the same time the Soviets also began to endow existing and projected air defense systems with a capability to intercept ballistic missil es. By the mid-l960s, primitive missile defense systems had sprung up around Moscow and Leningrad, and the Soviets established an independent ballistic missile defense organization called the PRO (anti-rocket defense force within its air defense command.

T he Soviets signed the 1972 ABM Treaty almost surely because they wanted to stall the technologically superior missile defense program of the U.S. Although they decided to forego fielding a large nationwide ballistic missile defense system, the Soviets con t inued their strategic defense program, and since 1972, have spent roughly as much on strategic defense 3 programs as on offensive nuclear forces. In the past decade alone, Moscows strategic defense program costs have been over $150 billion. This compares t o 20 billion for the U.S. in the same peri0d.T be sure, a major portion of these funds were spent on anti-aircraft defense. Nevertheless, the Soviet strategic defense investment increased in the late 1970s and 198Os, while substantial U.S. increases began with the SDI program in 1985 Undermining the Soviet Strategy. There are several apparent reasons for the increased Soviet investment in strategic defenses. For one thing, Soviet strategists seem to have concluded that, given the large number of nuclear we a pons already in their arsenal, further buildup of offensive forces would not appreciably improve their capability against the U.S! For another, the Soviets saw that the U.S. was deploying new nuclear weapons such as the Trident and MX missiles, which thre a tened Soviet follow-on strike forces These new deployments undermined the Soviet strategy of relying on a preemptive nuclear strike against U.S. forces. The U.S. deployments increased the likelihood that a preemptive strike by Soviet forces would be unabl e to weaken significantly the U.S. retaliatory strike.

The American SDI program, launched by Ronald Reagan on March 23 1983 probably contributed further to Moscows decision to intens

its own strategic defense programs.The Soviets chose to compete with th e U.S. in the development of missile defense technologies. It is also likely that the Soviet leadership wanted to gain leverage in arms control discussions about strategic defenses by having a program that attempted to match the SDI program.

The Soviet Un ion generally has found itself lagging behind the U.S. in its weapons technology base and tends to use the arms control process to delay U.S. deployments in order to catch up.The Soviets also tend to move more quickly than the U.S. in applying military te c hnologies.This gives the Soviets an advantage over the U.S. in several areas of deployed systems, particularly strategic defenses U.S. application of its technology to strategic defenses would erode Soviet advantages Additional Incentives. The fruits of S D I-type research are also applicable to conventional weapons. They can improve conventional missile accuracy upgrade computers, and improve command and control systems among other things.Thus, Moscow has an incentive to continue research on missile defense technologies for reasons that go beyond the desire for missile defenses themselves.

The Soviet strategic defense program consists in part of the defense system around Moscow.The Soviets have upgraded it with a new battle management radar at Pushkino and n ew missile interceptors to destroy incoming missiles s 3 The Soviets have the most capable and the largest air defense system in the world, consisting of almost l0,OOO surface-to-air missiles, 1,200 interceptor aircraft, and 6,300 radars 4 This view was e xpressed by such senior Soviet military theoreticians as Ogarkov and Gareev. See N.

Ogarkov, Kiasnaya Zda, May 9,1984, and M.A. Gareev, M.E Fnmte-Voennii Teorerik (Moscow Voenidat 1985 4inside and outside the atmosphere. The upgraded system, to be partly o perational this year, consists of new advanced Galosh interceptors and new high-speed missile interceptors called GcueZkThis brings the Moscow ABM system to 100 interceptors, the maximum allowed by the ABM Treaty; the original system had 64 interceptors m issile represents a particularly notable improvement over the earlier model.

According to an article by defense reporter Peter Samuel, Moscow's system can cover an area reaching 300 miles from the capital and can provide some protection to 30 percent of th e Soviet intercontinental ballistic missile ICBM) force. The Galosh and GazeZZe interceptors are thought to be equipped with low-yield nuclear warheads designed to disrupt or destroy U.S reentry vehicles without the need to precisely maneuver in their pat h .Target and tracking radars and associated systems also have been modernized with 5 new hardware and computer controls early-warning and tracking radar network. In addition to the Hen House early warning radars, in existence prior to 1972, the Soviets hav e constructed at least twelve large phased-array radars of the Pechora class, designed to track incoming ballistic missiles and their subsequent stages, including post-boost vehicles and reentry vehicles.The twelth Pechora class radar was discovered by U.S . intelligence in March 1988 zt the Soviet test facility at Sary Shagan near Lake Balkhash in Kazakhstan. Ten of the twelve Pechora class radars already are operating, and the old Hen House radars have been given the capability to track incoming reentry ve hicles with sufficient precision to provide targeting data to interceptor missiles.

Integrating Radars.The Soviets have tested successfully their large phased-array radar network. Data exchanges, which allow the radars to work as a network involving at lea st six of the Pechora class radars, have been observed! Also, Moscow has been tying together its large phased-array radars with the smaller radars associated with its numerous surface-to-air SAM) missiles. Also tested was the integrated operation of GuzeU e interceptors and Rat Twin engagement radars, which improves the accuracy and reliability of the interceptors in destroying incoming missile warheads.

An extensive and successful testing program that proved the worka ility of the integrated system of radars and interceptors took place in 1984.

One of the large phased-array radars is involved in the most blatant Soviet violation of the ABM Treaty.The treaty prohibits the construction of any large phased-array radar except for those either associated with t he Moscow Disrupting U.S. Warheads. The new heat-seeking Galosh interceptor Moscow has poured vast resources into bolstering its countrywide 7 8 5 Peter Samuel US. Intelligence Estimate Unmasks Red Breakout Washington Inquirer, April 1,1988 6 "New Evidenc e Points to a Soviet ABM Breakout The Washington 7irnes, March 10,1988 7 See Washington Inquirer, op.cit 8 Peter Samuel ABM Break Out USAF Says Soviet Radars Internetted and Interceptors Produced,"

Defense 2000, March 1988, p. 121 9 The Washington rimes, o p.cit 5 system, situated at permitted test sites designated by theTreaty, or located at the Soviet border and designed to track missiles outside the air space of the Soviet Union. The large phased-array radar in Krasnoyarsk in Central Siberia does not fit these categories.This violates the ABM Treaty because the radar could give the Soviets the capability to track precisely incoming reentry vehicles within range of interceptor missiles components as the Galosh and Gaze& interceptor missiles.Two Soviet ball i stic missile defense factories at Tyumen (east of the Urd Mountains and at Gomel (in the Western Ukraine) have been expanded to increase production rates. There are iidications that close to 3,000 of these interceptors ultimately will be manufactured at t hese factories. These numbers vastly exceed the needs of the single Moscow ABM system.

Moreover, Moscow is constructing hundreds of underground strategic defense facilities near military bases and command and control centers.

These sites are expected to house radars and interce tors to track and destroy incoming missiles in the event of an attack?'Facilities for the Gazelle interceptor missiles are also being prepared for rapid deployment above ground. Since these interceptor missiles do not require silos, the missiles can be deployed from hidden areas quickly.

These elaborate preparations mean that the Soviets are nearly capable of deploying the nationwide missile defense specifically prohibited by the ABM Treaty.This approach of stockpiling existing ABM components has also allowed the Soviets to proceed with their build-up of missile defenses in a way that makes it difficult for the U.S. to verify full compliance with the ABM Treaty, unlike the testing or deployment of space- b ased systems that would be readily detectable ABM Violations. The Soviets have continued to upgrade their vast air defense network.This violates the ABM Treaty because it gives Soviet surface-to-air missiles the ability to intercept and destroy missile re entry vehicles.The ABM Treaty allows the deployment of missiles capable of intercepting and destroying ICBM reentry vehicles only at designated sites.

Soviet surface-to-air missiles are deployed throughout Soviet territory. Tests of the SA-5, SA-10, and SA -12 surface-to-air missiles against ballistic missile reentry vehicles in the 1970s and 1980s demonstrated the capability of these weapons to fill limited ballistic missile defense missions. According to defense reporter Peter Samuel, in some 100 cases "t h ese classes of surface-to-air missiles have been observed in tests against ballistic missile warheads Moscow continues to violate ABM Treaty provisions that prohibit the deployment of ABM radars in the interior of the country. Specifically, the Soviets ha v e not dismantled their illegal Pechora class radar at Krasnoyarsk Elaborate Preparations. Moscow also has been stockpiling such 10 The Washington Times, op.cit 11 Defense 2000, March 1988, p. 121 6 I I I although they pledged to do so at the Baker-Shevard nadze meeting in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, on September 23, providing they were reassured that U.S. radars in Greenland and Britain do not violate the ABM Treaty. So far, however, the Krasnoyarsk radar has not been dismantled.

The Soviets have been conducting advanced research on strategic defenses focusing on terrestrial and space-based-systems. This programmobilizes tee of thousands of scientists, engineers, and technicians to develop high-energy battle lasers, particle beams, and other directed energy syst e ms that could disrupt or destroy ballistic missiles or their components. Radio frequency weapons, which can disable ballistic missiles by interfering with their electronic components, and kinetic energy devices, which destroy missiles and reentry vehicles by the force of collision, are also being explored.

Tremendous Resources. Considerable funding has been allotted to these efforts. According to former Deputy Director of Central Intelligence Robert Gates the Soviet laser program is estimated to cost about $1 billion per year The Soviets also have invested tremendous resources in developing an extensive space launch capability, centered on very large booster rockets and reusable spacecraft, which could lift strategic defense systems into space.

Some 70 percent of Soviet space launches are military in nature. If Moscow were to decide to ignore the ABM Treatys prohibition of a nationwide defense against ballistic missiles, it could lift its defense system into space much faster than could the U.S.

It is esti mated that, although in the early 1970s it would have taken the Soviets close to a decade to deploy strategic defenses throughout the USSR today it would take only about two years.Thus, Moscow could have a considerable lead over the U.S. if strategic defe nses. were deployed.

According to published reports of a U.S. intelligence estimate, the scope and tempo of the ongoing Soviet ABM efforts mean that Moscow may be preparing to break out of the ABM paty by laying the groundwork for a nationwide strategic de fense system A SCENARIO FOR A SOVIET BREAKOUT FROM THE ABM TREATY To say that Moscow appears poised to break out of the ABM Treaty does not, of course, explain either when the breakout would occur or how it would proceed. In fact, it is likely that even M o scow itself does not have a precise answer to this question. Much depends on how the technology develops in the years ahead, how the American SDI program proceeds, and more generally, the state of U.S.-Soviet relations. One thing, however, is certain: If t he U.S. SDI program falters because of cutbacks in funding, and if the Soviet strategic defense program continues apace, Moscow will face far fewer risks if 12 This statement was made by Mr. Gates before the World Affairs Council of Northern California, N o vember 25,1986 13 77ie Washington limes, op. cit Washington Inquirer, op. cit Defense 2000, op. cit I 7 it breaks out of the ABM Treaty than if the U.S. SDI were ready to be deployed A breakout likely would be gradual.The infrastructure of a nationwide st r ategic defense system is already in place, and it is being further improved and modernized If an overt breakout begins, Moscow would likely rapidly install-thousands of the mobile-radars and land-based-missile interceptors that are cuirently being produce d and stockpiled. Defense systems would likely be deployed mainly to protect key industrial, administrative, and military resources, including military bases, compounds for Party leaders, and major factories Countermeasures to U.S. Defenses. To this system , space- and land-based components could be added to produce a progressively more effective strategic defense system.This approach assumes that the pace and scope of the breakout are matters solely of Moscows choosing. However, should the American SDI prog r am proceed briskly, the Soviets might be forced to allocate resources for the development and deployment of countermeasures to possible U.S. defensive deployments. Such countermeasures could include missiles deployed with decoys and penetration aids and a nti-satellite systems to maintain the effectiveness of the Soviets own offensive nuclear arsenal.

Allowing Moscow to proceed with its own strategic defense plans undisturbed is the worst option because the Soviets would then be able to achieve absolute strategic superiority over the U.S. and its allies.

This is not to say, as argued by SDI opponents, that Moscow would be either willing or able to thwart SDI completely with countermeasures THE THREAT OF UNUTERAL SOVIET STRATEGIC DEFENSE DEPLOYMENTS Unilater al deployment of nationwide missile defenses would enable the Soviets to defend their territory after their offensive forces had destroyed much of the U.S. nuclear arsenal in a first strike. Combined with extensive Soviet civil defenses and efforts to for t ify their industrial facilities or disperse them in the event of a nuclear attack, it would likely reduce Soviet damage from any nuclear exchange defense compiised of ground-based interceptors would be good enough. At one time, Moscow sought to limit dama g e to the homeland by planning offensive nuclear strikes against U.S. nuclear forces. Now, assuming deep cuts in offensive nuclear arsenals are possible through a Strategic Arms ReductionTalks (START) agreement, Moscows strategy to limit damage to the home land would be much less demanding because the U.S. nuclear arsenal would be smaller.

Unilateral deployment of Soviet defenses would prevent the U.S. from destroying a large percentage of Soviet missile silos, submarine bases, and command and control center s in a nuclear retaliatory attack.To be sure The Soviets would not need a perfect defense; even a moderately effective 8 low-flying cruise missiles and strategic bombers (sometimes called air breathers because they do not leave the atmosphere) would remai n in the U.S. arsenal, and they would not be as vulnerable to strategic defenses designed to intercept only ballistic missiles that leave and reenter the atmosphere. Such a U.S. retaliation, however, would hit only the Soviet population, not Soviet ballist i c missiles, strategic command and control centers, and other military installations used to coordinate a nuclear attack on the U.S.Thus, a U.S. retaliatory attack would be suicidal because it would invite a Soviet retaliatory strike in kind that would lik ewise cause immense destruction to American civilians. It is thus questionable whether any U.S.

President would order a strike against Soviet civilians under such circumstances.The unilateral deployment of strategic defenses by the Soviet Union could force a U.S. President into a no-win situation in which the choice is either surrender or the death of millions of Americans A U.S. RESPONSE TO SOVIET STRATEGIC DEFENSES Moscows own ambitious strategic defense research and development program seriously challen g es American security. The deployment of robust nationwide missile defenses by Moscow, when coupled with its overwhelming offensive nuclear force, would tilt the strategic balance in Moscows favor if left unanswered.To prevent this the U.S. should proceed w ith the development and deployment of ever more effective missile defenses, the U.S. will be pressed to maintain the effectiveness of its missile force. It can do this by incorporating new technologies, including maneuverable reentry vehicles MARVs which are warheads capable of taking evasive action upon reentering the atmosphere against Soviet interceptor missiles, and such penetration aids as decoys and chaff, which simulate real reentry vehicles in order to confuse missile interceptors.

The deployment o f missiles with MARVs and penetration aids will limit the effectiveness of Soviet missile defenses against the U.S. missile force by either evading or deceiving the Soviet missile defense system.This is not to say, however, that the effectiveness of the U . S. missile force can be made impervious to missile defenses, particularly if Moscow deploys a sophisticated space-based missile defense system.This is because ballistic missiles are to some degree inherently vulnerable to missile defenses in the course of their flights, particularly during the boost stage Increase the number of nonballistic delivery vehicles (bombers and cruise missiles) in the U.S. inventory. While strategic bombers, and to some extent cruise missiles, must contend with Soviet air defense s , they are not as vulnerable to ballistic missile defenses.The U.S. is in the process of developing the B-2 stealth bomber and more accurate versions of the cruise missile, which are projected to be capable of penetrating Soviet airspace well into the 21s t century. Deployment of these systems will help bolster the effectiveness of the U.S. offensive nuclear force in the face of a possible deployment of Soviet missile defenses Continue to modernize its offensive missile force. As the Soviets 9 effective U.S . hedge against a Soviet breakout of the ABM Treaty is the SDI program. Even SDI critics concede that some level of SDI research and To address the threat posed by a Soviet breakout of the ABM Treaty, the U.S. must maintain a baianced SDI research effort. T his requires research on systems ready to be deployed in the near term, such as land-based interceptor missiles, and on the more exotic weapons that will not be deployed until much later, such as laser weapons and other directed energy weapons that could b e placed in space. In this way, the U.S. will be able to respond to the full array of contingencies that may accompany a Soviet breakout. If the Soviets break out of the ABM Treaty in the next several years, the U.S. will need to respond by deploying imme d iately available antimissile systems If the Soviets attempt to deploy sophisticated, space-based missile defenses toward the end of the 199Os, the U.S. must be ready to deploy similarly sophisticated, if not more sophisticated, space-based laser and other directed energy weapons.

The U.S. should be prepared to procure missile defenses very rapidly if the Soviets abandon the ABM Treaty. The SDI program depends on an American defense industrial base, including aerospace and electronic and computer manufacturers able to conduct resea r ch for the program. These manufacturers will build and maintain U.S missile defense systems. A weakening of the SDI program through congressional budget cuts will disrupt the ongoing research efforts of the many U.S. defense industries involved in missile defense research The disruption caused by these budget reductions ultimately will diminish the capacity of the U.S. to respond quickly to a Soviet breakout of the ABM Treaty Respond to Moscows development and deployment of missile defenses Soviet efforts t o develop and deploy missile defenses include activities prohibited by the ABM Treaty.The most obvious is the construction of the Krasnoyarsk radar. Under international law, the U.S. is entitled to take a proportionate action against an uncorrected treaty violation. As such Washington should announce that it is testing SDI in ways that otherwise would violate the ABM Treaty and that this is a proportionate response -to the Krasnoyarsk violation. The U.S. also should be prepared to take similar action in re s ponse to other Soviet violations of the ABM Treaty in arms control negotiations. The Soviets have argued that the U.S. SDI program is destabilizing and threatens arms control They have made these arguments while conducting an SDI program of their own that in many ways is more robust than the U.S. effort. It is clear, therefore, that Moscow seeks to limit only American missile defenses.The Bush Administration should constantly remind the Soviets that their declarations about the U.S. SDI program are incompa t ible with their own SDI program I Point to Moscows own SDI research effort to bolster the U.S. position 10 Insurance Policy. The Bush Administration also should respond to the Soviet criticism that SDI is incompatible with arms control by pointing out tha t SDI discourages cheating on arms control agreements that limit nuclear missiles by providing a defense against illegal missile deployments. There will be little reason for either the Soviet Union or the U.S. to deploy covertly missiles whose presence wou l d violate an arms control agreement, if these presence of missile defenses. In fact, SDI can be an insurance policy for START or the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. Such a policy would allow both sides to protect their security interests t h rough defensive deployments, including the threat posed by a breakout from either INF or START additional deplojments have only-alimited military value because of the CONCLUSION The Soviet Union has had an interest in strategic defenses since the dawn of the nuclear age. Protecting the Motherland from nuclear attack has been among the highest of Soviet military priorities.This has created a varied and vigorous Soviet program to develop and deploy strategic defenses.

Washington cannot afford to ignore Soviet progress in deploying land-based interceptors and ABM radars and in developing laser weapons, as that would result in Soviet strategic superiority.

The U.S. should be prepared to confront the Soviet SDI program both politically and militarily. By taking strong action to counter the Soviets ambitious missile defense program, the U.S. can virtually guarantee that the Soviets will derive little military or political benefit from it To do this, the U.S. should 1) Modernize its missile force with maneuverabl e reentry vehicles and penetration aids to enhance the ability of the missiles to evade or deceive Soviet defenses 2) Retain several elements in its offensive nuclear arsenal that are nonballistic (air breathers) and not as vulnerable to missile defenses h cluding bombers and cruise missiles a possible nationwide Soviet anti-missile deployment.

Treaty by conducting tests that would otherwise constitute violations of the Treaty 5) Point to the Soviet SDI program in fending off Soviet efforts to restrict or kill the U.S.

SDI program.

The Soviet Union views defending its territory against nuclear attack as one of its highest military priorities. In recent years, the Soviets have spent as much on strategic defense as on offensive strategic weapons. Soviet defen sive deployments, by themselves, do not threaten the U.S. and its allies, but when 3) Continue a vigorous and balanced SDI research effort to hedge against 4) Be prepared to respond proportionally to Soviet violations of the ABM 11combined with the Soviet Unions overwhelming offensive nuclear arsenal they pose a significant threat. The U.S. must be prepared to respond to the Soviet strategic defense program both politically and militarily.This will require the U.S. to modernize its offensive forces and pur s ue it own strategic defense program. Absent such a positive U.S. response, the Soviet Union will have achieved through its strategic defense program a clear political and military advantage relative to the U.S. and its allies Baker Spring Policy Analyst I I 12


Richard Fisher

Distinguished Fellow in China Policy