JANUARY 21, 1997


Mr. President:

As we commence the 105th Congress and take up, as we surely will, issues with regard to national missile defense and theater missile defense, a key question is whether continued adherence to the ABM Treaty, in its original or a modified form, is compatible with the kind of missile defense we need.

Is this an "either/or" choice?

I hold the view that the ABM Treaty does have, or can be made to have, sufficient flexibility or elasticity to accommodate certain kinds of national missile or theater missile defense systems. By the same token, I reject the notion that we can only achieve the types of theater missile defense or national missile defense we need by outright abrogation of the ABM Treaty.

I am struck more by the commonality than the differences between the prevailing views of some of my Republican colleagues in the Senate and views in the Administration on this subject. Much of the difference has to do with timing, stemming in part from different assessments of the intelligence information on the ballistic missile threat facing the country. Ultimately, responsible policy makers must come to grips with the management of the risk entailed by the threat and how much money we are willing to spend, in a tight budget situation, for various levels of missile defense to counter that threat.

At this point in our debates, there seems to be general agreement that we are not trying to protect the U.S. against a massive nuclear strike from a reconstituted Soviet Union or even a general exchange with Russia. Nor, for that matter, are we talking about protection against a deliberate, massive Chinese nuclear attack on the United States.

A consensus between the prevailing positions on the Hill and that of the Administration comes closer if there is an acceptance that this range of Russian or Chinese threats are beyond our technological and financial means in the near term and that our objective is one of defending America against a Third World, long-range ballistic missile capability from a regime not subject to any rational laws of deterrence.

It is the prospect that rogue states will at some point obtain strategic ballistic missiles ICBMs - that can reach American shores which propels us to consider the deployment of a national missile defense. A second prospect involves an unauthorized or accidental launch of an ICBM from Russia or China.

The kind of national missile defense system promoted both on the Hill and in the Administration would not be capable of defending against thousands of warheads being launched against the United States. Rather, both sides are talking about a system capable of defending against the much smaller and relatively unsophisticated ICBM threat that a rogue nation or terrorist group could mount anytime in the foreseeable future as well as one capable of shooting down an unauthorized or accidentally launched missile.

The critical difference between many of the plans offered on the Hill and those proposed by the Administration has to do with timing. Some Congressional proposals would require selection of a missile defense system to be made within a year, with deployment to begin within three years. The Administration has argued for the need to develop a system, assess the threat in three years, and make a deployment decision accordingly.

It is the difference between the various plans over timing on system- selection and deployment that holds practical implications for existing and potential arms control agreements (START II, the ABM Treaty, START III?) as well as the potential effectiveness of the system deployed. The more immediate the commitment to deploy a national defense system, the greater the risk of a Russian rejection of the START II Treaty and of an outright American rejection of the original ABM Treaty.

Secondly, differences over timing have been linked to the issue of the effectiveness of the system deployed by the United States. The Administration has argued that selection of a system within the next year or so will limit the options to build a system that is better matched to the threat, and that the real choice between various Congressional plans and that of the Administration is between building an advanced system to defeat an actual threat and a less capable system to defeat a hypothetical threat.

Mr. President, is there a middle ground -- one that satisfies neither the Administration nor various Congressional proponents fully but that does move us in the direction of providing the American people with a limited national defense system against the most urgent ballistic missile threats? I believe there is, and this legislation is an attempt to chart it.

Mr. President, I sense a greater willingness in both branches to try to come together in the interest of providing the American people with some form of limited, national defense system against the most urgent form of ballistic missile threat -- to seek to bridge gaps rather than score debating points.

Moreover, with the passage of time, the differences over preferred dates of system selection and deployment have narrowed.

With that in mind, and with a felt need to change the terms of reference of previous ballistic missile defense debates by focusing on areas of commonality between the

Administration's position and the various Congressional plans, I offer this legislation as one of the starting points for a more constructive exchange on the subject of national missile defense.




This act may be cited as the "Defend the United States of America Act of 1997"

II. Findings:

Describes the linkages between U.S. missile defenses, the ABM Treaty, and continued Russian adherence to other arms reduction treaties like START I and START II. .

Describes the newly-emerging threats posed by other kinds of weapons of mass destruction than nuclear weapons, and other delivery means than long-range ballistic missiles.

Hearings over the last two years have shown the pervasive threat to the U.S. from chemical, biological, and radiological weapons, and the relative unpreparedness of U.S. governments at all levels to cope with such terrorist incidents. Restates what DoD and Congress have learned about major weapons system development, with emphasis on the necessity for thorough testing and careful systems cost-effectiveness analysis prior to a commitment to deployment. .


Development for deployment not later than 2003 of a National Missile Defense system designed to defend against accidental, unauthorized, and limited attacks.

The initial National Missile Defense system to be developed and deployed at the former Safeguard ABM site in compliance with the ABM Treaty, and to consist of:

fixed, ground-based battle management radars;

up to 100 ground-based interceptor missiles;

space based adjuncts allowed by the ABM Treaty; and,

large phased array radars on the periphery of the U.S., facing outward, as necessary.

A requirement for a Presidential recommendation in 2000 on whether or not to deploy the developed system, and a set of criteria that should be used by the Congress in 2000 to aid in making a deployment decision. The criteria include:

the threat, as it exists in 2000 and is projected over the next several years; the projected cost and effectiveness of the system, based on development and testing results; the projected cost and effectiveness of the National Missile Defense system if deployment were deferred for one to three years, while additional development occurs; arms control factors; and, where the U.S. stands in preparedness for, and defenses against, all the other nuclear, chemical and biological threats to the U.S.

The establishment of provisions to give the 106th Congress a vote on whether or not to authorize deployment of the system, as a privileged motion under expedited procedures.

This is a process that has been used by previous Congresses to insure an up-or-down vote in both Houses on the B-2 bomber, the MX missile, and on B-52s.

In sum, this section establishes a process whereby Congress will vote in 2000 on whether or not to deploy whatever National Missile Defense system may be ready to begin deployment at that time, and with better information than we have today.


A statement that it is the United States' legal right to deploy such a National Missile Defense system, and that such a deployment does not threaten Russian or Chinese deterrent capabilities.

A direction to the President to seek both further cooperation with Russia on a variety of Theater Missile Defense issues, and the relaxation of the ABM Treaty to allow both sides to have two National Missile Defense sites.

This would greatly increase the effectiveness of our National Missile Defense systems against Third World missile attacks aimed at targets on our distant borders, while not posing a threat to Russia's deterrent.

This section also contains a provision requiring the President, if the ballistic missile threat to the U.S. exceeds that which the initial National Missile Defense system is capable of handling, to consult with the Congress regarding the exercise of our right to withdraw from the ABM Treaty under Article XV.


Directs the Secretary of Defense to continue a research and development program on advanced National Missile Defense technologies while the initial site is developed and deployed; this program would be conducted in full compliance with the ABM Treaty.


Sets forth U.S. policy on reducing the threat to the U. S. from weapons of mass destruction and associated delivery systems. It further directs the Administration to develop a balanced comprehensive plan for reducing the threat to the U.S. from all weapons of mass destruction and all delivery means.


Requires a review, following the initial deployment of a National Missile Defense, by the President and the Congress to determine the future course of U.S. defenses against all types of weapons of mass destruction.


Administration reporting requirements to Congress.


The legal definitions of the treaties mentioned in the bill.