HomeDOCUMENTSMission Reports2002 - July to December8-12 July 2002 - Visit to Washington and Monterey
8-12 July 2002 - Visit to Washington and Monterey
Political / Science and Technology
Sub-committees on Transatlantic Relations and on the Proliferation of Military Technology
TABLE OF CONTENTS
I. NATO'S FUTURE 1
II. NATO-RUSSIA RELATIONS 2
III. TRANSATLANTIC RELATIONS AND THE WAR ON TERRORISM 3
IV. WMD PROLIFERATION 5
V. MISSILE DEFENCE 8
1.The Sub-Committee on Transatlantic Relations and the Sub-Committee on the Proliferation of Military Technology travelled to Washington, DC and Monterey from 8 to 12 July 2002 to discuss transatlantic security topics with representatives of the US government and Congress, as well as independent experts. Among the issues addressed, the threat posed by the proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) featured prominently. The delegation of approximately 35 Assembly members also had an opportunity to discuss homeland defence (including ballistic missile defence), the war against terrorism and NATO's role in the new security environment. Headed by Peter Viggers (UK), Chairman of the Political Committee, and Michael Mates (UK), Chairman of the Sub-Committee on the Proliferation of Military Technology, the delegation held talks in Washington, DC during the first three days, and then travelled to Monterey, CA where they had a full day of briefings at the Center for Non-Proliferation Studies. The final day included a series of briefings at Lockheed Martin Missile and Space Operations in Sunnyvale, CA.
2.NATO's role in the new security environment was a recurring issue during discussions in Washington. Government officials and experts alike praised NATO's adaptability to the changing post-Cold War security landscape, but provided slightly different predictions about its future. Ambassador Daniel Fried, Senior Director for Europe and Eurasia at the National Security Council (NSC) reminded participants that the Alliance had successfully tackled two great challenges after 1989, namely the Balkans and 9/11. He stressed that the military operations in Afghanistan, while not a NATO operation, would have been "impossible without the Alliance's support and expertise".
3.Ambassador Fried and Elizabeth Jones, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, stressed that NATO Heads of State and Government would agree on a comprehensive set of strategies and capabilities to respond to the threats of the 21st century at the November 2002 Prague Summit. In addition to decisions about new roles and new members, Jones stressed the need to further develop Partnership for Peace (PfP), as well as the Defence Capabilities Initiative (DCI) which was likely to be streamlined, focusing on four or five key capabilities.
4.The issue of European defence capabilities received considerable attention in some of the meetings. Ambassador Fried stressed that while Europeans needed to invest more in defence, a more efficient division of labour among them was another option to be explored. It was suggested that the US "would not take Europeans seriously" because they would not spend enough on defence. However, according to Anatol Lieven of the Carnegie Endowment for Peace, this perception ignored European contributions to the International Stabilisation Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan and other peacekeeping efforts, especially in the Balkans. One US analyst maintained that the US Administration and Congress had given up hope that European Allies would significantly enhance their overall capabilities. Some specialisation might be achieved, but in crucial areas such as airlift and special combat forces contingencies continued. Hence, the US government increasingly believed that the US would "handle combat" while the Europeans would deal with peacekeeping. However, as Paul Gallis of the Congressional Research Service (CRS) warned, such a division of labour might have negative consequences for NATO.
5.Discussions with Senators Joseph Biden, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, Richard Lugar, a ranking Republican on the same Committee and others on Capitol Hill offered the optimistic picture that an enlarged, invigorated NATO remained central in the new security environment. Views on NATO's future provided by academic experts were generally less positive, raising more questions than offering answers. Anatol Lieven said that after 9/11 many in the United States had grown sceptical about the Alliance's utility. Some are reluctant to use NATO in out-of-area operations similar to the Afghanistan campaign, as it required endless consultations and negotiations with Allies. Lieven anticipated that NATO would have a somewhat limited role in the future, namely in providing stability in Europe, primarily in its Southeastern part, as well as developing military standards and increasing compatibility among allied armed forces.
6.Enlargement would have a profound impact on NATO, speakers concurred. Although "NATO's future role lies in the East", as Lieven put it, further enlargement may generate internal imbalances, particularly if NATO invited countries that "were not as ready to join as the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland were when they were invited". Southeast Europe, he added, was particularly crucial in this regard. As EU membership did not appear close for many of the countries in this region, NATO might be forced to accept them as members too soon. Jeffrey Simon of the National Defense University warned that NATO was in danger of taking on too much both in terms of new tasks and the number of new member countries. He suggested that increasing the number of member countries to as many as 26 required adjustments to NATO's command structure and the consultation process in the North Atlantic Council (NAC). NATO should give clear signals to aspirant countries, namely to inform them of exactly what they need to provide to NATO's common defence. Moreover, new member countries required NATO's guidance and assistance in training, especially in anti-terrorist programmes. The concern, expressed by NATO PA's Vice-President Mario Palombo, that enlargement might weaken the Alliance militarily was not shared by Ambassador Fried and other government officials.
7.Simon Serfaty, Director of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) Europe Programme, maintained that NATO as "we knew it, was finished". The capabilities gap made the organisation militarily irrelevant, because 9/11 had proven that modern warfare was different from that which NATO had been created for. Thus, a radical transformation was required to allow NATO to address new security threats. While few of the experts and government officials shared Mike Hancock's (UK) view that NATO could become a political rather than a military alliance, all agreed that NATO was not to become just a counter-terrorism Alliance. Nonetheless, all speakers consented that increasing flexibility would be essential if the Alliance wishes to remain relevant in the new security environment.
8.NATO's future role in Euro-Atlantic security would certainly be influenced by its relationship with Russia, was a view repeatedly voiced in the discussions. US government officials expressed a generally positive view of the new relationship between NATO and Russia. Elisabeth Jones described it as a "considerable success". Daniel Fried stated that the newly created NATO-Russia Council had "great potential", but its success depended to a large extent on Moscow.
9.Russian President Vladimir Putin seized the opportunity after 9/11 to fundamentally transform the US-Russian relationship, according to Stuart Goldman of CRS. Instead of trying to exploit for tactical advantage the US need for cooperation in Afghanistan, Putin offered generous wide-ranging cooperation on many issues, notably US troop deployments in Central Asia, missile defence and nuclear arms reductions. The decision to close a Russian military base in Cuba and a more conciliatory tone from the Russian government over Baltic accession to NATO, were other important signals, Goldman indicated. The "China factor" played a significant role, according to Goldman, in the improved relationship with NATO. Putin had concluded that "excessive reliance" on China was counterproductive for Russia's interests in the long run, mainly because of its vast, unpopulated territory that directly bordered China and because of Beijing's military build-up and active foreign policy. The Russian President's top priority was the revitalisation and modernisation of Russia's economy and its integration into the world economy, in order to offer a better standard of living to the population. Anatol Lieven suggested that Russian concerns about NATO and its enlargement were allayed by NATO's own debate over its utility in the post-September 11 security environment.
10.Nevertheless, questions about Russia's foreign policy ambitions and its long-term relationship with NATO remained. Lieven maintained that Russian foreign policy continued to be driven by a "desire to play a great power role", whilst Goldman seemed convinced that Putin had at least temporarily abandoned such ambitions. Aleksandrs Kirsteins (Latvia) expressed concern about Russian long-term ambitions, adding that there appeared to be not only one, but "several Russian foreign policies". Rasa Jukneviciene (Lithuania) expressed concern over Russia's democratic development. Goldman agreed that Russia's current stance on foreign and defence policy was fragile as it was "basically a one-man show". Indeed, most of Russia's military establishment, foreign policy bureaucracy, political elites and even the general public were unhappy about President Putin's national security policy. However, there was "virtually no political mechanism to translate dissatisfaction into effective political pressure to force Putin to change this policy".
11.As far as the US administration's policy towards Russia was concerned, analysts said that it appeared split between a "hard line" (represented by Vice-President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz) and those that wanted to "meet them half way" (represented by Secretary of State Colin Powell). The harder line tends to predominate, partly because President Bush firmly believes in Missile Defence, partly because of President Putin's willingness to compromise on sensitive issues. Nevertheless, some problems could remain, such as Russia's relationship with Iraq and Iran, the CFE-treaty, as well as crisis areas in Georgia and Moldova.
12.To show genuine willingness to cooperate with Russia and to increase domestic support for its policy towards the West, Goldman suggested that the West should provide economic incentives and help to develop a market economy. This could include, for example, WTO membership, debt relief, trade agreements, as well as investments to increase prosperity in Russia. In this regard, an improvement of the relationship between the European Union and Russia was also crucial. Goldman also underlined the importance of non-proliferation aid, such as the allocation of US$20bn for the disposal of Russian weapons grade plutonium over the next 10 years, that the G-8 summit agreed upon at its 2002 meeting in Canada.
13.With regard to arms control, Acting Assistant Secretary for Arms Control Lucas Fischer pointed out that the new US relationship with Russia brought an important agreement on the reduction of the respective nuclear arsenals. Contrary to earlier arms control agreements that often consisted of hundreds, if not thousands of pages, and were "too structured", as Fischer put it, the new Moscow treaty was very simple. From the US point of view, a legally binding agreement was not necessary, but the Russian side insisted on it. The new treaty, according to the State Department's official, deliberately left open how each side would implement reductions.
14.Finally, William Potter, Director of the Monterey Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS), encouraged NATO Allies to use the opportunity offered by the new relationship with Russia to strengthen the informal 1991 regime regulating tactical (non-strategic) nuclear weapons (TNW). Their small size, vulnerability to theft and perceived usability make the existence of TNW in national arsenals a risk to global security.
III.TRANSATLANTIC RELATIONS AND THE WAR ON TERRORISM
15.The terrorist attacks on the United States have changed profoundly the transatlantic relationship. According to Karen Donfried, Director of the German Marshall Fund's Foreign Policy Programs, the transatlantic solidarity and unity that sparked immediately after 9/11 seemed to fade in the months that followed. US-European differences over threat perceptions, the means to tackle challenges and the role of international institutions (re-)emerged. While they agreed that the US and its Allies did not always see eye to eye on a number of issues, speakers in Washington rated media reports and commentaries that depicted the transatlantic partnership in "crisis" or that spotted a deep "cultural divide" between the US and its European Allies, as "overdone". Daniel Fried stressed that the transatlantic relationship was in much better shape than depicted in newspaper articles. Paul Gallis noted that there was much progress on law enforcement cooperation in the war on terrorism.
16.That the US considered itself as a global power, while Europeans regarded themselves as a regional power was an underlying reason for the difficulties in finding a common line, Donfried argued. She and others suggested that while Americans found themselves at "war", Europeans did not share this view. The US administration and Congress remained concentrated on the threat. The US tended to see the world through a "military prism", while Europeans did not. Speakers repeatedly stressed that Europeans preferred political and diplomatic means in dealing with the current threats. As Gallis suggested, Europeans sought a strategy with the Muslim world that would include more economic aid, better understanding of the interests of Muslim countries and political engagement, notably with countries such as Iran. José Lello (Portugal), argued that "power does not mean security", summarising the recurring issue of whether military might was sufficient to contain all security problems. While everyone agreed that US military might was without parallel, a majority of participants viewed that even a superpower needed allies to achieve its goals.
17.Some independent analysts expressed critical views of the US strategy against terrorism. Joseph Cirincione, Director of the Non-Proliferation Project (NPP) at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said that it might have been a strategic mistake to declare a "war on terrorism" after 9/11 as this would be a "far too broad policy goal". It would be very difficult to imagine military operations in more than 60 countries. Moreover, there was a tendency to see this as a "war" that could be mainly - or only - won militarily. The opposite was true, Cirincione underlined. Indeed, economic, political and diplomatic means would be much more important in winning this war. In the US, there was not much discussion about this, and only very little criticism of the administration's approach, but this, it was suggested, might change after the elections in November 2002. Serfaty added that "ending this war [on terrorism] requires capabilities that even the US does not have". US power alone could not defeat terrorism because something more than military power was required.
18.Anthony Cordesman of the CSIS stressed that there was no "new" threat as such but there appeared now to be different challenges. One was that the US, NATO Allies and the international community focussed too narrowly on terrorism, and particularly on Islamist radical groups. There was "no clash of civilisations", he stressed, as the real problems many Muslim countries faced were economic underdevelopment and lack of democracy, which were the product of failed states and failed leadership.
19.In this context, the question of how to deal with Iraq was a recurring issue during the meetings. According to Jon Wolfsthal of the Carnegie Foundation, the US believed it had a "moral right to intervene". Though Europeans also considered the Iraqi regime a potential threat, they preferred a political and diplomatic solution to "contain" the threat. Lieven stressed that many US policymakers considered Europe "absolutely vital" for any military operation in the Middle East, even if it was in a more passive role. Ambassador Fried said that, if military action in Iraq was necessary, the US might want to rely on NATO assets, as in the 1991 Gulf war.
20.Senator Biden encouraged his European colleagues to come up with "new ideas" on Iraq. The European contribution was important, he stressed, not only in deciding the best strategy to tackle the threat, but in helping re-build the nation after the fall of Saddam Hussein. Cordesman highlighted the same problem: "getting rid of Saddam is not going to automatically produce democracy".
21.Paul Gallis said that the US might be gearing up for conflict with Iraq at a time of great tension in the Middle East. He noted that a war in Iraq could undermine the anti-terror coalition and alienate moderate Arab countries. Many speakers were convinced that a broader Middle East conflict would deepen public opinion and political divisions across the Atlantic. Already, Europeans and Americans had different perceptions of the responsibilities of the two sides for the failure of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
22.The ongoing transatlantic confrontation on the International Criminal Court (ICC) was discussed at length. Members of the delegation unanimously deemed the decision taken by President Bush to "disengage" from the ICC as short-sighted and counterproductive. Vasily Iver (Russian Federation) considered this as a sign of American unilateralism, while others viewed the US decision as representative of this administration's lack of trust in international institutions. Jeffrey Simon reminded participants of the peculiar strategic perspective of the US, which considered itself at war. Referring to America's leading role in establishing and supporting numerous international organisations such as the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, Paul Gallis said that the US still considered itself as "international" actor. Donfried reminded that, while it was difficult to define what constituted "unilateralism", the Bush administration declared itself "multilateral" in view of its reliance on Allies during the Afghanistan campaign. Nevertheless, some speakers admitted that the US government's concerns about the ICC (namely that the court invited false and politically motivated accusations against US forces) were partially justified. European legislators emphasised the treaty safeguards, pointing out that national courts remained the first instance.
23.Summing up the debates about the future of the transatlantic partnership, Simon Serfaty said that "plus ça change, plus ça reste la même chose". He described the transatlantic relationship, by defining three developments: a) Europe of the 19th century is dead, b) NATO at it was since the 1950s is dead, and c) security as we knew it in the 1990s no longer exists. Hence, Serfaty concluded, the transatlantic relationship depended to a large extend on the evolution of the European Union and its eastward enlargement.
24.Members of the US Congress, government officials and policy analysts concurred that the proliferation of WMD - and particularly the risk of these weapons falling into the hands of terrorists - was the most serious threat to the national security of the United States. But while the conventional wisdom in the Bush administration appears to be that "proliferation is out of control", several of the experts met during the visit disagreed with this view. According to Joseph Cirincione proliferation is not out of control, but the issue has been used politically to rally public support for the current war on terrorism. In fact, the risk of proliferation is not in itself greater now than before 9/11, according to Jon Wolfsthal, another senior analyst at Carnegie's NPP. What is greater is the attention to the problem and the awareness of the existing dangers. On the one hand, this guarantees that the threat is taken into appropriate consideration; on the other hand, however, the widespread public debate over WMD terrorism has made terrorists much more aware of existing weaknesses in this area. This has given them greater confidence that an attack with WMD would be successful.
25.The US government has been focusing on the threat of WMD terrorism since 1995. Although still very few terrorist incidents involving WMD have really occurred, according to Jason Pate, senior research associate at the Monterey CNS, they appear to be increasing and, after the 2001 anthrax letters, a threshold has been crossed. This appears to be true especially from a psychological standpoint, as Mike Powers of the Chemical and Biological Arms Control Institute (CBACI) stressed, given that the anthrax letters in the US caused much more collective panic than casualties. But the menace is indeed real: many of the most dangerous terrorist groups, both national and transnational, have demonstrated interest in WMD. Some right-wing militia groups in the US and in other Western countries have made attempts to acquire chemical or biological weapons, Pate indicated. According to many sources, al Qaeda has tried to acquire nuclear materials since the early 1990s and more recently US government sources have indicated the group's intention to get hold of chemical or biological agents.
26.Obtaining these agents, however, does not necessarily imply the capability to weaponise them and produce mass casualties. Only a few chemical or biological agents can actually produce heavy losses, and they require an extremely high expertise to be handled effectively. However, as Powers highlighted, advances in biotechnology could indeed facilitate the weaponisation of certain agents and/or make them more lethal.
27.Where could terrorists acquire WMD? According to Carnegie's NPP experts the issue of WMD proliferation is still largely defined by state stockpiles. While these stockpiles are not the only likely source, they are still the most important. Public officials and legislators by and large confirmed these assertions. Robert Simmons, Deputy Director of the Office of European Security and Political Affairs at the Department of State, reiterated the administration's concerns about the "axis of evil" countries (Iran, Iraq and North Korea) while acknowledging substantial differences in motivations between them. He indicated that the US was favouring a diplomatic solution with regard to North Korea, which he personally considered the most problematic case.
28.With regard to Iran, Senator Biden declared that he encouraged any effort by the US to support the reformers in that country and assured his European colleagues that the National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice shared this view. Nonetheless, Simmons indicated that it was the State Department's view that even if the reformers in Iran were to have the upper hand in their struggle with the conservative clerics, Tehran would still try to develop WMD and missile capabilities. Lucas Fischer added that there were some serious concerns about Russia's assistance to the Iranian nuclear energy programme. He also acknowledged that the administration had even greater concerns about China's activities in assisting other countries in their weapons programmes.
29.On the specific case of Iraq, NSC's Daniel Fried declared that the administration considered the UN Security Council of "no use to make Saddam Hussein comply", but stressed that "nothing is imminent, and the US administration is looking at all the possible options". Senator Biden assured that he shared the administration's view that Saddam Hussein represented a serious security threat, but added that a debate on Iraq was going to start soon in the United States focusing on "whether, how and when" the United States should attack Baghdad. "If UN inspectors go in and fail again" he also declared "at least we have a case and we can go to our allies to ask for their help".
30."Destroying, eliminating or securing weapons of mass destruction around the globe", declared Senator Lugar, had become an "absolute priority" for the United States and its Allies. Different ideas were offered about strategies to deal with this priority. As the experts at Carnegie pointed out, many in the Bush administration believe that the United States can provide for its security and the security of its Allies with improved conventional US forces, the deployment of comprehensive missile defences (including new, space-based weapon systems) and fewer nuclear weapons. In this view, which was confirmed by government officials, non-proliferation will be more and more based on a combination of military action, bilateral agreements and diplomatic efforts rather than on multilateral accords.
31.Nevertheless, Simmons indicated that, for the time being, international non-proliferation treaties were "part of the response" to WMD proliferation. Other means included "defence, deterrence, and dissuasion". This focus on multilateral accords was confirmed by Senator Lugar, who suggested that funding to US programmes aimed at destroying or securing WMD stockpiles in the countries of the former Soviet Union - which he (and former Senator Sam Nunn) contributed to launch in the early 1990s - be substantially increased. He also urged European allies to step up their contribution in this area.
32.The activities of the Department of Energy (DoE) in the area of securing nuclear weapons-usable materials throughout the former Soviet Union were illustrated by Kenneth E. Baker, Principal Assistant Deputy Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). Since 9/11, the Bush administration conducted a major review of this programme, which led primarily to a substantial increase of its budget and an acceleration of security work in Russia and elsewhere. The total Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation budget for FY2002 amounts to more than $ 1 billion (36% above FY2001) and the congressional budget request for FY2003 is of $1.1 billion. The programme includes a number of initiatives to secure nuclear material at military and civilian facilities, assist former Soviet scientists and strengthen border security in Russia.
33.While securing stockpiles appears to the best strategy to deal with nuclear weapons and materials, it might not be sufficient to defend ourselves from chemical and biological weapons (CBW). Measures to address CBW, according to the experts from Carnegie, should include the control of exports of chemical weapon precursors, dangerous biological pathogens and dual-use equipment (i.e. technology that could be used both for civilian purposes as well as for producing WMD). Michael Barletta and Amy Sands of CNS suggested that the United States and its Allies promote an international biosecurity convention aiming at preventing unauthorised access to pathogens and regulating germ commerce. To overcome the difficulties of the Biological Weapons Convention and of setting specific international legislation, this convention would produce a set of basic obligations and guidelines, which would be implemented in detail by each member-state through its national legislation.
34.An additional line of defence against bioterrorism, according to Mike Powers, would be to improve domestic preparedness by training first-responders, strengthening public health systems, improving detection technologies, stockpiling medical supplies and improving vaccines. Finally, as "the chain of security is only as strong as the weakest link", information programmes should be developed to educate the public about the consequences of a bio-attack, possibly avoiding the kind of "alarmist announcements" that the US Department of Defense, according to Jon Wolfstahl, regularly issued following 9/11 and the anthrax letters.
35.Barry Blechman provided a general overview of US efforts to bolster homeland security in response to terrorist attacks. He described the US strategy as a three-tier approach, namely (1) to stop terrorists before or during attacks, (2) to raise the bar for terrorists to enter the US, and (3) to find and destroy terrorists pre-emptively. Pre-emptive strikes were the "cardinal" element of the US's strategy. Most of the extra money allotted to homeland defence would be directed to this aspect of the strategy. So far, the second aspect of the strategy had received the least attention, Blechman noted.
36.Ester Brimmer, Deputy Director of the Johns Hopkins University's Center for Transatlantic Relations, considered homeland defence an area where Allies needed additional work. The anthrax attacks in the US, while rather limited in scope, almost brought the public health care system to a standstill. She suggested bringing together scientists, namely bioterrorism experts, and policy experts. Brimmer pointed out that while local authorities were primarily responsible for tackling with the consequences of a WMD attack, the threat was certainly international. How could these difficulties be managed? Should transatlantic efforts to cooperate on and coordinate homeland defence be led by NATO?
37.Since its election, President Bush has made missile defence one of his top priorities. After the announcement in December 2001 that the United States would withdraw from the 1972 ABM treaty, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld declared in January 2002 that the administration would seek to deploy "as soon as practicable" a Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS) able to "intercept missiles in all phases of their flight". The visit to Lockheed Martin (LM) Missile and Space Operations provided the members a valuable opportunity to get acquainted with some of the new US Missile Defence programmes.
38.According to Douglas R Graham, Vice President for Defensive Systems at LM, the US budget for Missile Defense (MD) has doubled in one year (from $ 4 to 8 billion). LM participates in a broad range of MD programmes, ranging from various elements of theatre missile defences to the ground-based midcourse system to advanced kill-vehicles and directed energy weapons.
39.Among the theatre missile defence programmes the Patriot Advance Capability-3 (PAC-3) is the most advanced developmentally. A small number have been made available for deployment, although testing is not completed. The PAC-3 can defend US and allied troops in a relatively small area against short-range missiles (such as Scuds), aircraft and helicopters, and cruise missiles. Similar to the PAC-3 is the Medium Extended Air Defense Systems (MEADS), a transatlantic cooperative effort between the United States (60%), Germany (23%) and Italy (17%). Capable of countering tactical ballistic missiles and air-breathing threats, including cruise missiles, MEADS will be tactically mobile and transportable. A significant asset for NATO Allies' homeland defence, it will enter active service by 2005. The Navy Area Defense (NAD) system consists of interceptors deployed aboard Aegis ships. This system has the advantage of being able to be brought into theatre quickly without having to put forces on land. According to LM, two successful intercept tests of the Aegis system were performed in January and June 2002.
40.The Theater High Altitude Air Defense (THAAD) system is designed to shoot down, inside and outside of the atmosphere, short- and medium-range missiles in their terminal phase. It could be used to defend troops overseas as well as civilians and infrastructure over a larger area than PAC-3. After a number of failed flight intercept tests, in 1999 THAAD had two successful ones, which according to LM had no "facilitation" but "were not the hardest ones". Another flight intercept test is not scheduled until 2004, so the system is unlikely to be deployed before 2010.
41.The most technically challenging theatre missile defence programme is the Airborne Laser (ABL), aimed at fitting a high-power chemical laser onto a Boeing 747-400F aircraft. The first objective of the programme is to be able to shoot down short-range missiles, later the administration is hoping to use it as part of its boost-phase strategic missile defences. LM admitted that the engineering and technological challenges of the ABL are "greater than the hit-to-kill systems". The system has yet to be flight-tested and production cannot probably be started before 2010.
42.The Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) is more or less what during the Clinton administration was called National Missile Defense (NMD). However, because the Bush administration's programmes to defend continental United States, Alaska and Hawaii from ballistic missiles are much more ambitious, the GMD is now part of a multi-layered strategy that includes expanded versions of some of the above theatre missile defence systems, and, possibly, space-based systems. Since 1997, the GMD programme has conducted eight flight tests, but only six were intercept tests, and two of them failed. If all the future tests were successful, a somewhat limited GMD system could be deployed by 2008.
43.With regard to space-based systems, the Bush administration is showing continued interest in two weapons for missile defence: the Space-Based Laser and a space-based kinetic kill interceptor. Moreover, to protect its space assets, the United States is also considering putting in orbit an anti-satellite weapon (ASAT). However, according to Clay Moltz of Monterey CNS, the administration has not convinced critics of these plans in the US arms control community, in Congress (including senior Republicans) and even in the US armed forces. These critics argue that no real threats exist today in space; that political implications are uncertain (an arms race in space should be avoided); costs are likely to be out-of-control; and the public generally opposes space weapons. As the administration's missile defence plans are likely to be accelerated after the June 2002 expiration of the ABM treaty, the debate on space arms is likely to build up also outside the United States. For this reason, the STC Sub-Committee on the Proliferation of Military Technologies has decided to study this topic in its 2003 Report.