Copyright 2000 Community Television Foundation
of South Florida, Inc.
The Nightly Business Report
SHOW: NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT (NPR 6:30:00 pm ET)
July 7, 2000
Transcript # 00070701-118
LENGTH: 4310 words
HEADLINE: Nightly Business Report>
GUESTS: Mark Skousen
BYLINE: Paul Kangas, Susie Gharib
GHARIB: Paul, the
Pentagon is getting ready for a key test of a national missile defense program.
If successful, it could pave the way for one of the most expensive American
weapons systems ever.
And as Darren Gersh reports, it's also one of the most controversial.
DARREN GERSH, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT
CORRESPONDENT: Some time tonight a missile like this one will take off from
Vandenberg Air Force Base (ph) in California. A few moments later, a missile
like this will take off more than 4,000 miles away in the Pacific. If
goes as planned, a kill vehicle carried by the second missile will turn the
first missile into space dust. In a world where many countries are now
developing missiles capable of reaching our shores, defense analysts consider a
missile defense inevitable.
DEFENSE ANALYST, DFI INTERNATIONAL: The question is one of timing. When does it
make the most sense politically and the most sense practically from a technical
point of view?
GERSH: For defense contractors like Boeing (BA), Lockheed Martin (LMT),
Raytheon (RTN) and TRW (TRW), the national missile
defense program has meant billions in research and development dollars. The
goal is to deploy a working system in 2005. For defense contractors, deployment
could mean profits of $2 billion or more. But first, those companies will have
to overcome the greatest technological challenge the Pentagon has ever taken
LAMBERT: The most concerning thing about a program like this is that there are
a million things that can go right and if one thing goes wrong, it will be a
GERSH: Critics accuse the Pentagon of dumbing down tonight's test to guarantee
a success. Defense contractors have
yet to prove a system will work despite already spending more than it cost to
develop the atom bomb and Stealth bomber combined.
JOHN PIKE, DEFENSE ANALYST, FEDERATION OF AMERICAN
SCIENTISTS: Evidently, they are clearly working on a very difficult problem if
they have managed to spend this much
money and this much time and still not have anything to show for it.
GERSH: Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the markets have had little
reason to worry about national security. But critics say building a missile
defense will give them one.
PIKE: We're going to have an
arms race in a few years with China building up to offset our missile defense
and India and Pakistan playing catch up with China.
GERSH: If tonight's test succeeds, a panel of experts will likely suggest the
president take the next step and build an advanced
radar system in Alaska. If it fails, the pentagon will try one more test before
the end of the year.
Darren Gersh, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, Washington.