DATE=6/30/2000 TYPE=ON THE LINE TITLE=ON THE LINE: THE CASE FOR MISSILE DEFENSE NUMBER=1-00861 EDITOR=OFFICE OF POLICY - 619-0037 CONTENT= THEME: UP, HOLD UNDER AND FADE Anncr: On the Line - a discussion of United States policy and contemporary issues. This week, "The Case for Missile Defense." Here is your host, Robert Reilly. Host: Hello and welcome to On the Line. On July 7th, the United States will conduct its next test of a national missile defense system. Previous tests have produced mixed results. The information provided by the new test will help President Bill Clinton decide whether to proceed with the preliminary stages of deployment. Joining me today to discuss the case for missile defense are three experts. Milnor Roberts, a former major general in the U.S. Army, is president of High Frontier, an educational foundation promoting missile defense. Stephen Young is deputy director of the Coalition to Reduce Nuclear Dangers. Ivan Eland is director of defense policy studies at the Cato Institute. Gentleman, welcome to the program. Mr. Roberts, do you think the United States is on the right track today in developing missile defense? Roberts: We are on the right track for development. We are not on the right track for deployment because of the policy of this administration, which is not to deploy anything along this line, with the exception of a statement by Mr. Clinton within a last few weeks, which I think was made for political reasons, to put a defense in the Aleutian Islands, at a cost of, according to the newspapers, sixty billion dollars, which somebody must have gotten badly twisted around. But anyway, that in some respects would be better than nothing. Host: But why deploy before the tests are completed? Roberts: Well, I do not think they would propose to deploy before the test. Host: You wouldn't either, would you? Roberts: No. Assuming that the test would be successful, it is not our choice anyway for initial deployment of the missile defense. We think it is far better to proceed with the Navy system. Because the Navy cruisers and destroyers which would have these defenses on them are already there. The money has been spent for it. Now you can put the system of missile defense on these cruisers and destroyers, and deploy them around the world wherever needed. And in fact, if we had had one in the Sea of Japan, the Japanese might have wanted to have one there when the North Koreans fired that missile over them, which shook them up pretty badly. Host: Stephen Young, what do you think about the current status of development and possible deployment? Young: Well, in my experience I think it is pretty clear that this program is being rushed ahead far too quickly. This is simply the third test planned this July, of nineteen scheduled tests. Yet Clinton has said he will decide this fall whether or not to deploy this system. So I think we are far too early in the game to decide we should deploy this system, Primarily because we don't know if it works or not. And not only are Russia and China opposed, our allies at this point are opposed as well. This is just going too quickly. Host: Let's say that the system did work, would you oppose it or would be for it? Young: Well, it is not the matter of the system working or not. If the system works is one question. And if the system did work, then perhaps yes. But the problem is that you have to look at the overall U.S. security. Would having a limited defense, which is what this system is planned to be against a small threat, be worth the cost in terms of other threats to U.S. security? Russia and China have been very clear that they will react very negatively to U.S. plans to deploy missile defenses. And the threat may actually increase if we do that. Host: I think you have just asked a great question. Let's hear Ivan Eland answer it. Eland: Well, I am for the system, but I also agree with Stephen that we should not rush it. I think every weapons system that we build, and this is a very complex one, needs to be thoroughly tested before we deploy it. I am for the land- based system rather than for the sea-based system because I have real concerns about [the fact] that the navy system is a mid-course interceptor. And they want to do a boost phase, which means when the missile comes off the land. And that is much more difficult. I think it is not going to be easy to do. And the navy is going to want more ships. And the ships cost a billion dollars. So, I have questions about the navy system, but I am for a land-based system. But I think it needs to be thoroughly tested before we deploy it. Host: We do not actually have the time to debate which system ought to be deployed. I am sure that everyone agrees that no one should deploy a system that does not work. But is it fair to say there is a consensus, because this is a Democratic administration proposing national missile defense? Is there a national consensus that United States ought to move forward with a limited defense? Roberts: Well, I think that Clinton has taken a position, and I'm sure Gore will also, that yes we do need missile defense because they realize politically this is the thing to do. As far as the prospective presidential candidate of the Republican side, Bush, he has already come out and said yes, he wants to see missile defenses, when they are properly prepared, deployed. Host: Does this mean, then, the United States will have some form of limited missile defense system? Young: Well that's exactly the point. It is a political question at this point. It's a campaign issue. It's not an issue about U.S. security. It's an issue about the U.S. campaign. Host: But isn't it more than that? Hasn't a law been passed requiring deployment by the year 2005? Young: No. The 2005 is actually the date that the Clinton administration says that a threat from North Korea, which is the so-called rogue state, formerly rogue state, now the state of concern, might be able to have a missile that could hit the U.S. with a long-range warhead. The fact that Russia already has six thousand such warheads is being ignored in the debate almost entirely. The decision being made this fall is a political decision trying to protect Clinton and Gore from attacks on the right. And the fact that there might be, down on the road, a new limited threat to the U.S., at that point, if we had a system that worked, it might make sense to deploy it. But we are not there yet. Eland: I think a consensus is building for a limited missile defense. I think, like Stephen says, that the 2005 date is really artificial. But I think things have been moving in the political arena towards a limited missile defense. I do think it is important, maybe it is past the scope of this show, but it's very important as to what kind of defense we get. There have been all sorts of proposals from Bush for a more comprehensive defense to Clinton's more limited defense, towards a sea-based option. So, I think we are going to have to face that issue at some point in the future. Roberts: We really need a boost phase defense to be most practical. A boost phase defense intercepts that missile while it's on the way up or it's up to its apogee, rather than trying to knock it down on descent. And for that reason we favor a laser system, an airborne, space-based or an airborne laser in a [Boeing] 747, which is less practical. But if you have laser defenses in space, then you do not have to be concerned about being at right place at right time, as you would with airplane. And this system has been tested and a lot of money has been spent on it. It has not been perfected yet but, in our opinion, we ought to have boost phase defense first. We think that is better. I think you gentlemen agree with that one, boost phase defense? Eland: No, I would not agree with that. I think there are problems with the mid-course defense because you have to discriminate the warheads that come off. One missile can generate many warheads. Host: That's why he asked, are you for boost phase? Eland: But I am not. I think there are problems with the mid-course phase defense. But I think there are also a lot of problems with boost phase. I think putting stuff into space is extremely expensive, and I do not think it is justified by the eliminated threat. I propose a limited defense for a limited threat. That is what I propose. Host: Let's talk about the threat because that's what this is supposed to be in response to. Where is that threat coming from? Young: The current totals are roughly that the Soviet Union, now Russia, still has about six thousand long-range warheads on submarine-launched missiles and bombers that could hit the U.S. within fifteen minutes to two hours, depending on how it is delivered. China has perhaps twenty long-range missiles that could hit the U.S. with a single warhead each. This system is not in theory designed to respond to either of those threats, but to even smaller threats from a country like North Korea, which has yet to even launch a single missile that could hit the U.S. with a nuclear warhead. They have a development program. That program is currently frozen in negotiations with the U.S. And it may actually never develop. Just last week North Korea and South Korea had their first ever summit between the two countries. There is a good chance that the threat the system is designed to respond to may never emerge. Eland: I think that just because the North Korean leader smiled into the camera -- I do not want to overstate the North Korean threat, but I do think there is a threat of accidental launch from rogue nations, which I think we may want to invest a certain amount of money to combat. I am not for spending a lot of money on this, because, as I said, I think the threat is limited and it does not cover bombs smuggled into a port on a ship or delivered by an aircraft, or whatever. And those are more likely threats than a missile. But I do think there is some threat and we should have some expense to combat it. Roberts: The thing that has happened are third world missiles; everybody wants missiles. Iraq, Iran -- you name it around the world. And in some cases, they are getting weapons of mass destruction, not limited to nuclear, chemical, or biological. The Israelis now have got some protection -- the only people in the world who have it. That is the Arrow System that has been put in place in Israel, eighty percent financed by the United States. It's a land-base system very similar to THAAD. THAD is a theater high altitude air defense that we were talking about for the Aleutians. And so they have got one. The Chinese are threatening Taiwan. They have got coastal batteries right along the coast a hundred and twenty miles away. North Korea has threatened Japan. So there are threats around the world. So the idea of not progressing to develop an effective system does not make any sense for our security or the security of our allies. Eland: I think we need to -- when we say national missile defense that does not sound like a national missile defense to me. That sounds like an international missile defense. I would prefer to create a more limited system that will address U.S. concerns. And if other countries want to develop systems, like Israel or whatever - Israel's is more of a theater system -- but if other countries want to develop their own national systems, that is fine. I think the U.S. should fund a limited system that protects our territory. Host: Let me just quickly ask a question about that because isn't one of the objections made by the allies of the United States in Western Europe that "your system," that is the national missile defense, "only protects the United States and it won't protect us"? Young: Precisely. Eland: I think that is one of the objections that they make. But I mean we have provided their security for a long time. We contributed heavily to their security. I think it is time that they were more independent. And if they want to fund a system like this, then they can pay for it. Roberts: I think we can protect them if we wanted to do and they agree to it. Britain is upset about the idea of putting a radar installation, assuming one of these programs went forward, into the British Isles. And I do not blame them for being concerned because that would be, in effect, inviting some reprisal against them. On the other hand, I think they are concerned about the possibilities of rockets with nuclear warheads or other weapons, chemical and biological. I think they would look with favor if we can establish a very effective defense, which would protect them as well as ourselves. Eland: There is a vast difference in expenditures if you are protecting them because you have to use space-based assets, and they cost a lot of money. I think a layered space-based system, for instance that presidential candidate [George] Bush was talking about, would cost up to two hundred billion [dollars], whereas the Clinton administration's program would cost thirty to sixty [billion]. And so it is much cheaper to build a defense that will defend [only] our own country. Host: I now want to ask Stephen Young. We have talked about the allies. What about the concerns Russia raised in the recent summit between President Clinton and President [Vladimir] Putin? And what about the Chinese reaction to this prospective deployment? Stephen: Both have been very, very negative and strongly opposed. And the wild card is China, as you indicated. There are real questions about what China would do. China currently has a very small arsenal, perhaps twenty long-range missiles. It is not very modern. It is actually liquid fueled missiles that don't even have the warhead on them. It is hours or even days from delivery. If the U.S. built a missile defense system, trying to intercept a small number of missiles, as China already has, in order to preserve its deterrent, China might be likely to increase its arsenal greatly, perhaps to go to forty, sixty, eighty, or two hundred warheads. Who knows how much they could do if they were forced to by U.S. defenses? So, in fact, by building defenses, the U.S. would actually increase the threat to itself. Roberts: Many people, including ourselves, feel that we ought to tell the A-B-M treaty "bye-bye." Host: China is not a member of that treaty. Roberts: I know. Host: Could you respond to Mr. Young's point on that. Would defending ourselves provoke China into this huge buildup? Roberts: I am not sure it would provoke them. I think they are planning to do it anyway. They certainly have stolen or otherwise acquired our latest technology. Are they doing that for fun? No. Eland: I think the Chinese are modernizing their arsenal anyway. Even if there is a reaction by China, even up to two hundred warheads, we have six thousand warheads. They are not going to be competing with us like the Soviet Union was during the Cold War because I do not think they ever had any inclination to do that. And so, I think even if there is a reaction to our limited defense, it would be fifty to one-hundred warheads. And that certainly is not the six-thousand warheads we have. But I think they are going to modernize their arsenal no matter what. Host: The Under Secretary of Defense, Walter Slocombe, made the point that a limited defense system might dissuade a country with a nuclear arsenal from checking the United States in a certain region where we would wish to deploy troops because they could not convincingly deter us with the threat of a nuclear strike. Young: This is an ironic thing. In fact, in my book, if North Korea, for example, wants to attack us with a nuclear warhead, please use a missile. It's most likely to fail. If they decide to attack us, and put it on a boat or on a plane, it is going to get here and Americans are going to die because we have no defense possible against that. If you use a missile, it is going to be more likely to fail by itself than any other attack you could possibly use. In that scenario, they are just not likely to use a missile. They have not been tested. They don't have a program. The fact is that the U.S. has never been deterred by anybody because we have such vast superior forces, conventional and nuclear. During the [Persian] Gulf war, Iraq did not use chemical and biological weapons because the U.S. would wipe out Iraq if they did. That is very clear. Host: But at the same time Iraq was not in a position to hit the mainland of the United States. Eland: No, not at the time. I think that is a significant difference. However, I think we ought to question the U.S. intervention in the first place. The reason that a lot of these countries are developing long-range missiles is because they are afraid of U.S. intervention. So aren't we contributing to the proliferation of long-range missiles? I mean, they would develop intermediate- range or short-range missiles to deal with countries in their theater. But why are they developing long-range missiles? Because they are afraid of U.S. intervention. I think we really need to ask: is our strategic interest served by doing all these interventions? Isn't it leading to the proliferation that every one is scared about? Host: Let me just you this question, General Roberts. By not building a missile defense, isn't the United States inviting rogue nations or nations of concern to construct missiles? Roberts: The primary concern is rogue nations or an accidental launch. There was an accidental launch in Siberia about five years ago. It traveled several thousand miles. So to remain defenseless against any kind of missile attack, when we do have the resources -- it would cost money -- but we want to defend this country against the possibility of a rogue nation, an accidental launch, or, God help us, a deliberate attack by the Chinese. It isn't likely, but they have got the capability. Eland: I think the accidental launch is the real reason to build this. I am not convinced that we can deter rogue state leaders just like we deter everyone else. Getting incinerated by the most powerful nuclear arsenal in the world, I do not think, keeps any leader in power. I think they will be deterred by our offensive deterrent. I think a limited defense is a back-up system in case that somehow would fail and also, more importantly, for an accidental launch. These countries do not have well-developed nuclear doctrines. They do not have nuclear weapons or long-range missiles yet. But when they get them, their nuclear doctrine will be non-existent, and the safeguards will be limited, and they won't have a good command and control. Host: Just very quick question and reaction from you. Can the United States develop a limited national missile defense with a modified A-B-M treaty, or should the United States withdraw? Roberts: I think we would have to give them six months notice and withdraw. Host: Stephen Young, what do you think? Stephen: It is possible and it is better than the alternative of withdrawing. But I still think it is the wrong course entirely. Eland: I think we need to amend the treaty because I think we do need to consider that Russia is still the only society that can wipe out our society with nuclear weapons. They are the only country that can do it. And I think we really need to pay some attention to their sensitivities. Host: I'm afraid that's all the time we have this week. I would like to thank our guests - Milnor Roberts from High Frontier; Stephen Young from the Coalition to Reduce Nuclear Dangers; and Ivan Eland from the Cato Institute - for joining me to discuss the case for missile defense. This is Robert Reilly for On the Line. Anncr: You've been listening to "On the Line" - a discussion of United States policies and contemporary issues. This is --------. 30-Jun-2000 14:01 PM EDT (30-Jun-2000 1801 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .