Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty: Wikis


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The Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM Treaty or ABMT) was a treaty between the United States of America and the Soviet Union on the limitation of the anti-ballistic missile (ABM) systems used in defending areas against missile-delivered nuclear weapons.

Signed in 1972, it was in force for the next thirty years until the US unilaterally withdrew from it in December 2001.



Throughout the late 1950s and into the 1960s, the United States had been developing a series of missile systems with the ability to shoot down incoming ICBM warheads. During this period the US maintained a lead in the number and sophistication of their delivery systems, and considered the defense of the US as a part of reducing the overall damage inflicted in a full nuclear exchange. As part of this defense, Canada and the US established the North American Air Defense Command (now called North American Aerospace Defense Command NORAD).

By the early 1960s, US research on the Nike Zeus missile system (see Project Nike) had developed to the point where small improvements would allow it to be used as the basis of a "real" ABM system. Work started on a short-range, high-speed counterpart known as the Sprint to provide defense for the ABM sites themselves. By the mid-1960s, both systems showed enough promise to start development of base selection for a limited ABM system dubbed Sentinel. However, due to political debate, Sentinel never expanded beyond defense of missile-bases.

An intense debate broke out in public over the merits of such a system. A number of serious concerns about the technical abilities of the system came to light, many of which reached popular magazines such as Scientific American. This was based on lack of intelligence information and reflected the American nuclear warfare theory and military doctrines. The Soviet doctrine called for development of their own ABM system and return to strategic parity with the US. This was achieved with the operational deployment of the A-35 ABM system and its successors, which remain the only operational ABM systems.

As this debate continued, a new development in ICBM technology essentially rendered the points moot. This was the deployment of the Multiple Independently targetable Reentry Vehicle (MIRV) system, allowing a single ICBM missile to deliver several warheads at a time. With this system the USSR could simply overwhelm the ABM defense system with numbers, as the same number of missiles could carry ten times more warheads. Upgrading it to counter the additional warheads would cost more than the handful of missiles needed to overwhelm the new system, as the defenders required one rocket per warhead, whereas the attackers could place 10 warheads on a missile with more affordable cost than development of ABM. To further protect against ABM systems, the Soviet MIRV missiles were equipped with electronic countermeasures and heavy decoys, with heavy missiles like R-36 carrying as many as 40 of them.[1] These decoys would appear as warheads to ABM, effectively requiring engagement of 50 times more targets than before and rendering defense ineffective.

At about the same time, the USSR reached strategic parity with the US in terms of ICBM forces. A nuclear war would no longer be a favorable exchange for the US, but both countries would be devastated. This led in the West to the concept of mutually assured destruction, MAD, in which any changes to the strategic balance had to be carefully weighed. To the US, ABMs now seemed far too risky – it was better to have no defense than one that might trigger a war.

In the East however, the concept of MAD was almost entirely unknown to the public, studied only by those in the Soviet military and Government who analyzed Western military behavior. Soviet military theory fully involved the mass use of nuclear devices, in combination with massive conventional forces.

ABM Treaty

As relations between the US and USSR warmed in the later years of the 1960s, the US first proposed an ABM treaty in 1967. This proposal was rejected. Following the proposal of the Sentinel and Safeguard decisions on American ABM systems, the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT I talks) began in November 1969. By 1972 an agreement had been reached to limiting strategic offensive weapons and strategic defensive systems. Each country was allowed two sites at which it could base a defensive system, one for the capital and one for ICBM silos (Art. III).

The treaty was signed in Moscow on May 26, 1972 by the President of the United States, Richard Nixon and the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Leonid Brezhnev; and ratified by the US Senate on August 3, 1972.

The 1974 Protocol reduced the number of sites to one per party, largely because neither country had developed a second site. The sites were Moscow for the USSR and Grand Forks Air Force Base, North Dakota, since its Safeguard facility was already under construction, for the US.

It was seen by many in the West as a key piece in nuclear arms control, being an implicit recognition of the need to protect the nuclear balance by ensuring neither side could hope to reduce the effects of retaliation to acceptable levels.

In the East, however, it was seen as a way to avoid having to maintain an anti-missile technology race at the same time as maintaining a missile race.

For many years the ABM Treaty was, in the West, considered one of the landmarks in arms limitations. It was perceived as requiring two enemies to agree not to deploy a potentially useful weapon, deliberately to maintain the balance of power and as such, was also taken as confirmation of the Soviet adherence to the MAD doctrine.

After the SDI announcement

The treaty was undisturbed until Ronald Reagan announced his Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) on March 23, 1983. Reagan stated that SDI was "consistent with... the ABM Treaty" and he viewed it as a defensive system that would help reduce the possibility of mutual assured destruction (MAD) becoming reality; he even suggested that the Soviets would be given access to the SDI technology.

The project was a blow to Yuri Andropov's so-called "peace offensive". Andropov said that "It is time they [Washington] stopped... search[ing] for the best ways of unleashing nuclear war... Engaging in this is not just irresponsible. It is insane".[2]

SDI research went ahead, although it did not achieve the hoped result. SDI research was cut back following the end of Reagan's presidency, and in 1995 it was reiterated in a presidential joint statement that "missile defense systems may be deployed... [that] will not pose a realistic threat to the strategic nuclear force of the other side and will not be tested to... [create] that capability." This was reaffirmed in 1997.

The competitive pressure of SDI did not, in fact, add additional strain to the Soviet economy, in large part because Soviet scientists did not believe such a system was feasible. Gorbachev actually turned down Soviet proposals for their own system, or for more multi-warhead ICBMs to overwhelm a mythical system. However, the Soviet economy was essentially still a war economy after World War II, with increase of civilian production disproportionally small compared to growth of defense industry. It was already slowly becoming clear that the Soviet economy could not continue as it was, with military spending absorbing 40% of GDP; the continual demands from the military-industrial complex unrelated to SDI aggravated this problem and was part of the longer term situation which led to the collapse of the Soviet Union.

US withdrawal

After the dissolution of the Soviet Union in December 1991 the status of the treaty became unclear, debated by members of Congress and professors of law.[3][4][5] In 1997, a memorandum of understanding[6] between the US and four of the former USSR states was signed and subject to ratification by each signatory, however it was not presented to the US Senate for advice and consent by Bill Clinton.

On December 13, 2001, George W. Bush gave Russia notice of the United States' withdrawal from the treaty, in accordance with the clause that requires six months' notice before terminating the pact. This was the first time in recent history the United States has withdrawn from a major international arms treaty. This led to the eventual creation of the Missile Defense Agency.[7]

Supporters of the withdrawal argued that it was a necessity in order to test and build a limited National Missile Defense to protect the United States from nuclear blackmail by a rogue state. The withdrawal had many critics as well as supporters. John Rhinelander, a negotiator of the ABM treaty, predicted that the withdrawal would be a "fatal blow" to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and would lead to a "world without effective legal constraints on nuclear proliferation." The construction of a missile defense system was also feared to enable the US to attack with a nuclear first strike.

Reaction to the withdrawal by both the Russian Federation and the People's Republic of China was much milder than many had predicted, following months of discussion with both Russia and China aimed at convincing both that development of a National Missile Defense was not directed at them. In the case of Russia, the United States stated that it intended to discuss a bilateral reduction in the numbers of nuclear warheads, which would allow Russia to reduce its spending on missiles without decrease of comparative strength. Discussions led to the signing of the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty in Moscow on May 24, 2002. This treaty mandated the deepest ever cuts in deployed strategic nuclear warheads, without actually mandating cuts to total stockpiled warheads.

See also


Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty [1] 1974 Protocol [2]

External links

Source material

Up to date as of January 22, 2010

From Wikisource

Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty
Editor's comment: The United States of America chose to exercise Article 15 of the treaty, and withdrew in December of 2001.[1]


Signed at Moscow May 26, 1972
Ratification advised by U.S. Senate August 3, 1972
Ratified by U.S. President September 30, 1972
Proclaimed by U.S. President October 3, 1972
Instruments of ratification exchanged October 3, 1972
Entered into force October 3, 1972

The United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, hereinafter referred to as the Parties,

Proceeding from the premise that nuclear war would have devastating consequences for all mankind,

Considering that effective measures to limit anti-ballistic missile systems would be a substantial factor in curbing the race in strategic offensive arms and would lead to a decrease in the risk of outbreak of war involving nuclear weapons,

Proceeding from the premise that the limitation of anti-ballistic missile systems, as well as certain agreed measures with respect to the limitation of strategic offensive arms, would contribute to the creation of more favorable conditions for further negotiations on limiting strategic arms,

Mindful of their obligations under Article VI of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons,

Declaring their intention to achieve at the earliest possible date the cessation of the nuclear arms race and to take effective measures toward reductions in strategic arms, nuclear disarma-ment, and general and complete disarmament,

Desiring to contribute to the relaxation of international tension and the strengthening of trust between States,

Have agreed as follows:

Article I

1. Each Party undertakes to limit anti-ballistic missile (ABM) systems and to adopt other measures in accordance with the provisions of this Treaty.

2. Each Party undertakes not to deploy ABM systems for a defense of the territory of its country and not to provide a base for such a defense, and not to deploy ABM systems for defense of an individual region except as provided for in Article III of this Treaty.

Article II

1. For the purpose of this Treaty an ABM system is a system to counter strategic ballistic missiles or their elements in flight trajectory, currently consisting of:

(a) ABM interceptor missiles, which are interceptor missiles constructed and deployed for an ABM role, or of a type tested in an ABM mode;

(b) ABM launchers, which are launchers constructed and deployed for launching ABM interceptor missiles; and

(c) ABM radars, which are radars constructed and deployed for an ABM role, or of a type tested in an ABM mode.

2. The ABM system components listed in paragraph 1 of this Article include those which are:

(a) operational;

(b) under construction;

(c) undergoing testing;

(d) undergoing overhaul, repair or conversion; or

(e) mothballed.

Article III

Each Party undertakes not to deploy ABM systems or their components except that:

(a) within one ABM system deployment area having a radius of one hundred and fifty kilometers and centered on the Partys national capital, a Party may deploy: (1) no more than one hundred ABM launchers and no more than one hundred ABM interceptor missiles at launch sites, and (2) ABM radars within no more than six ABM radar complexes, the area of each complex being circular and having a diameter of no more than three kilometers; and

(b) within one ABM system deployment area having a radius of one hundred and fifty kilometers and containing ICBM silo launchers, a Party may deploy: (1) no more than one hundred ABM launchers and no more than one hundred ABM interceptor missiles at launch sites, (2) two large phased-array ABM radars comparable in potential to corresponding ABM radars operational or under construction on the date of signature of the Treaty in an ABM system deployment area containing ICBM silo launchers, and (3) no more than eighteen ABM radars each having a potential less than the potential of the smaller of the above-mentioned two large phased-array ABM radars.

Article IV

The limitations provided for in Article III shall not apply to ABM systems or their components used for development or testing, and located within current or additionally agreed test ranges. Each Party may have no more than a total of fifteen ABM launchers at test ranges.

Article V

1. Each Party undertakes not to develop, test, or deploy ABM systems or components which are sea-based, air-based, space-based, or mobile land-based.

2. Each Party undertakes not to develop, test or deploy ABM launchers for launching more than one ABM interceptor missile at a time from each launcher, not to modify deployed launchers to provide them with such a capacity, not to develop, test, or deploy automatic or semi-automatic or other similar systems for rapid reload of ABM launchers.

Article VI

To enhance assurance of the effectiveness of the limitations on ABM systems and their components provided by the Treaty, each Party undertakes:

(a) not to give missiles, launchers, or radars, other than ABM interceptor missiles, ABM launchers, or ABM radars, capabilities to counter strategic ballistic missiles or their elements in flight trajectory, and not to test them in an ABM mode; and

(b) not to deploy in the future radars for early warning of strategic ballistic missile attack except at locations along the periphery of its national territory and oriented outward.

Article VII

Subject to the provisions of this Treaty, modernization and replacement of ABM systems or their components may be carried out.

Article VIII

ABM systems or their components in excess of the numbers or outside the areas specified in this Treaty, as well as ABM systems or their components prohibited by this Treaty, shall be destroyed or dismantled under agreed procedures within the shortest possible agreed period of time.

Article IX

To assure the viability and effectiveness of this Treaty, each Party undertakes not to transfer to other States, and not to deploy outside its national territory, ABM systems or their components limited by this Treaty.

Article X

Each Party undertakes not to assume any international obligations which would conflict with this Treaty.

Article XI

The Parties undertake to continue active negotiations for limitations on strategic offensive arms.

Article XII

1. For the purpose of providing assurance or compliance with the provisions of this Treaty, each Party shall use national technical means of verification at its disposal in a manner consistent with generally recognized principles of international law.

2. Each Party undertakes not to interfere with the national technical means of verification of the other Party operating in accordance with paragraph 1 of this Article.

3. Each Party undertakes not to use deliberate concealment measures which impede verification by national technical means of compliance with the provisions of this Treaty. This obligation shall not require changes in current construction, assembly, conversion, or overhaul practices.

Article XIII

1. To promote the objectives and implementation of the provisions of this Treaty, the Parties shall establish promptly a Standing Consultative Commission, within the framework of which they will:

(a) consider questions concerning compliance with the obligations assumed and related situations which may be considered ambiguous;

(b) provide on a voluntary basis such information as either Party considers necessary to assure confidence in compliance with the obligations assumed;

(c) consider questions involving unintended interference with national technical means of verification;

(d) consider possible changes in the strategic situation which have a bearing on the provisions of this Treaty;

(e) agree upon procedures and dates for destruction or dismantling of ABM systems or their components in cases provided for by the provisions of this Treaty;

(f) consider, as appropriate, possible proposals for further increasing the viability of this Treaty; including proposals for amendments in accordance with the provisions of this Treaty;

(g) consider, as appropriate, proposals for further measures aimed at limiting strategic arms.

2. The Parties through consultation shall establish, and may amend as appropriate, Regulations for the Standing Consultative Commission governing procedures, composition and other relevant matters.

Article XIV

1. Each Party may propose amendments to this Treaty. Agreed amendments shall enter into force in accordance with the procedures governing the entry into force of this Treaty.

2. Five years after entry into force of this Treaty, and at five-year intervals thereafter, the Parties shall together conduct a review of this Treaty.

Article XV

1. This Treaty shall be of unlimited duration.

2. Each Party shall, in exercising its national sovereignty, have the right to withdraw from this Treaty if it decides that extraordinary events related to the subject matter of this Treaty have jeopardized its supreme interests. It shall give notice of its decision to the other Party six months prior to withdrawal from the Treaty. Such notice shall include a statement of the extraordinary events the notifying Party regards as having jeopardized its supreme interests.

Article XVI

1. This Treaty shall be subject to ratification in accordance with the constitutional procedures of each Party. The Treaty shall enter into force on the day of the exchange of instruments of ratification.

2. This Treaty shall be registered pursuant to Article 102 of the Charter of the United Nations.

DONE at Moscow on May 26, 1972, in two copies, each in the English and Russian languages, both texts being equally authentic.

President of the United States of America

General Secretary of the Central Committee of the CPSU

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