III. Controlling Missiles and Space Weapons


The United States Government regards the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty as the cornerstone of strategic stability, and is committed to its continued effectiveness. By constraining defenses against strategic ballistic missiles, the Treaty ensures the viability of strategic nuclear deterrent forces and enables significant reductions in offensive nuclear weapons under the START treaties.

The ABM Treaty of 1972 prohibits deployment of a defense of national territory against strategic ballistic missile attack. As modified by a Protocol signed in 1974, the Treaty permits the United States and the Soviet Union each one deployment area for ABM defenses to protect either the national capital or an ICBM deployment area. The Soviet Union chose, and Russia now maintains, an ABM defense of Moscow. The United States deployed the Safeguard ABM system complex to defend the ICBM deployment area at Grand Forks, North Dakota; it has been inactive since 1976.

Treaty Article XIII provides for establishment of the Standing Consultative Commission (SCC), a forum in which the treaty parties deal with matters of treaty implementation. The SCC meets at least twice yearly to work on matters of relevance to the operation of the Treaty. Additionally, Article XIV calls for a review of the Treaty every five years.

Recent ABM Treaty Developments

In 1993, the Clinton Administration examined the ABM Treaty in the context of an overall review of national security issues, and concluded that the Treaty should be retained and its viability and integrity maintained. This, in turn, required updating the Treaty to agree on state succession to the Treaty following the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Additionally, in order to ensure that development and deployment of theater ballistic missile defense (TMD) systems proceeded in a manner compliant with the ABM Treaty, the Administration undertook to clarify Article VI of the Treaty to distinguish TMD systems, not limited by the Treaty, from ABM systems, which are limited by the Treaty.

Treaty Succession. Following the breakup of the Soviet Union, the United States concluded that any of the New Independent States (NIS) that chose to be a Party to the Treaty had a legal right to do so. In negotiations in the SCC during October 1996, Belarus, Kazakstan, Russia, Ukraine, and the United States reached an agreement to codify legal succession to the Treaty by New Independent States wishing to become Parties. This codification specifies which states are successors to the Soviet Union's Treaty rights and obligations, how successors will carry out the obligations of the Treaty regarding Treaty-accountable facilities on their territory, and the disposition of the Soviet Union's single ABM deployment area.

Theater Ballistic Missile Defenses. The ABM Treaty limits the number and location of ABM defenses against strategic ballistic missiles, such as ICBMs and SLBMs. The Treaty does not limit non-strategic, non-ABM systems such as theater ballistic missile defenses (TMD), but it prohibits giving such non-ABM defensive systems capability against strategic ballistic missiles and testing them in an "ABM mode." However, the Treaty does not define clearly a distinction between ABM systems and non-ABM systems (including theater ballistic missile defenses). The United States, Russia, Belarus, Kazakstan, and Ukraine have been negotiating a clarification to the ABM Treaty of the demarcation between strategic and theater missile defenses.

From late 1993 through 1996, these negotiations on a "demarcation" between ABM and TMD have been conducted in the Standing Consultative Commission and at other levels.

Political-Level Consultations. At the Moscow Summit in April 1996, Presidents Clinton and Yeltsin stated that they had made progress on how the ABM/TMD demarcation would be resolved for both lower- and higher-velocity TMD ("velocity" refers to the TMD system interceptor velocity; lower-velocity systems have interceptor speeds less than or equal to 3 km/s and higher-velocity systems have interceptor speeds greater than 3 km/s). Consequently, the SCC was charged to codify a lower-velocity demarcation agreement by June 1996. By the end of June, the United States and Russia had resolved their remaining differences on succession and demarcation. Unfortunately, representatives of Belarus, Kazakstan and Ukraine did not have an opportunity to join the U.S.-Russian consensus prior to the end of the SCC session. In September 1996, U.S. Secretary of State Christopher and Russian Foreign Minister Primakov met in New York and issued a statement indicating agreement on demarcation for lower-velocity systems, and that the succession and lower-velocity ABM/TMD demarcation documents were to be signed in Geneva, Switzerland, by the end of October 1996. Furthermore, the SCC would begin discussion of demarcation issues regarding higher-velocity systems.

Next Steps. Following agreement on demarcation at the political level, the SCC met in Geneva in October to prepare for signature the demarcation and succession documents. The documents were to be signed October 31, 1996, at the Deputy Foreign Minister level. However, a few days before the signing, Russia proposed changes to the agreements that would have altered the entry-into-force provisions of the succession and demarcation agreements. The changes proposed by the Russian side were unacceptable to the United States and a solution to the impasse could not be reached in the time remaining before the scheduled signing. Consequently, the signing did not take place as planned.

National Missile Defense. The Administration has made deployment of highly-effective theater missile defenses its highest missile-defense priority. Next in priority is the development of a capability to defend the United States against intercontinental ballistic missiles. The National Missile Defense (NMD) Deployment Readiness Program calls for the development and initial testing within three years of an ABM Treaty-compliant missile defense system that could be deployed three years after a deployment decision is made. If after the first three years the threat situation warrants deployment, then the NMD system could have initial operational capability by 2003.

Arms Control Objectives. The principal ABM Treaty objectives of the Administration include:


In the aftermath of the Cold War, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and the missile delivery systems for these weapons is one of the most serious threats to U.S. security interests. ACDA is a key participant in the development and implementation of U.S. missile nonproliferation policy, in particular through the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR). In 1996, the United States sought to make the Regime more effective in combating the proliferation threat. The United States is an active participant in the 29-nation MTCR; ACDA participates in all activities related to formulating U.S. MTCR policy and in administering the MTCR Guidelines and Annex. During 1996, the exchange of information among Partners, and coordination of interdiction of illegal exports, continued to improve.

ACDA participated in MTCR intercessional meetings that, for the first time, discussed missile proliferation from a regional perspective, and worked on the U.S.-sponsored MTCR export control seminar on transshipment attended by both Partners and non-Partners who are key transshipment countries. At the Edinburgh Plenary, held October 1996, Partners agreed to continue to exchange views on missile-related aspects of regional tensions and the role of the regime in contributing toward reducing associated risks to security in the areas involved. Partners also recognized the importance of controlling the transshipment of missile technology without disrupting legitimate trade and acknowledged the need to strengthen the Regime through cooperation with countries outside the Regime.

U.S. plans for the future of the MTCR include: (1) continuing to work with the Partners to make the MTCR more effective in combating the proliferation threat, (2) increasing the emphasis on regional approaches to missile non-proliferation, (3) increasing the Regime's transparency to non-members, and (4) continuing emphasis on impeding proliferators' misuse of transshipment.

Ukraine and the United States are continuing to work together, building on the progress made in 1995, to facilitate Ukraine's membership.

In South Asia, the U.S. continues to work unilaterally and multilaterally through the MTCR to reduce the tension between India and Pakistan, which has been exacerbated by Chinese missile-related exports to Pakistan and by India's development of indigenous ballistic missiles.

Effective March 1992, China committed to abide by the 1987 MTCR Guidelines and parameters. In October 1994, China signed a Joint Statement with the U.S. in which it reaffirmed its 1992 commitment, pledged not to export ground-to-ground MTCR-class missiles, agreed that missiles are judged to be MTCR-class based on their inherent capability, and agreed to hold in-depth discussions with the U.S. on the MTCR. ACDA participated in the October/November 1996 nonproliferation talks with China. ACDA remains concerned about missile-related exports by Chinese firms to Iran and Pakistan. Consistent with U.S. nonproliferation policy, ACDA has strongly supported efforts by the administration to encourage China to adopt responsible nonproliferation policies.

North Korea has been an active supplier of SCUD missiles to countries in regions of tension and continues its development of several WMD-capable missiles that exceed MTCR parameters. The U.S. is working with North Korea to make clear the relevance of restraint in missile exports to the development of our bilateral relations.

South Korea and the U.S. are working closely together to facilitate that country's ability to meet the conditions for U.S. membership support.

During 1996, ACDA also advised U.S. government agencies and industry on policies relating to new joint venture space launch companies, and worked to ensure U.S. export control policies were implemented consistently across the spectrum of space and missile technology licensing. ACDA supported worldwide missile nonproliferation efforts, focussing intensely on reduction and eventual elimination of offensive ballistic missile programs covered by the MTCR and worked to prevent the acquisition of such weapons from other countries, particularly in South Asia and the Korean Peninsula. ACDA also supported vigorous implementation of sanctions legislation and was active in bringing about sanctions against entities in North Korea and Iran.

ACDA serves on the Missile Trade Analysis Group which is responsible for U.S. interdiction efforts and review of export transactions that may be subject to missile-related sanctions. ACDA also participates in review of missile technology export licensing through the Missile Technology Export Control Group, and provides technical input to the process of updating the MTCR Equipment and Technology Annex in the Missile Annex Review Committee.


Since the signing of the START I Treaty, some of the START Parties have initiated programs for using ballistic missiles for non-military space purposes, and other parties are planning such programs. The START Treaty permits ballistic missiles to be used as space launch vehicles. However, such use must conform to START's accountability and verification provisions as well as to the MTCR Guidelines. On the one hand, every former Soviet missile actually used as a space launch vehicle is a missile that will never be used as a weapon, and stability will be accordingly increased. On the other hand, we must ensure that such programs are not used to circumvent either limits on strategic missiles or missile proliferation controls.

In the fall of 1995, the United States, Belarus, Kazakstan, Russia and Ukraine confirmed, and recorded in a joint statement in the Joint Compliance and Inspection Commission, that all space launch vehicles that incorporate the first stage of an ICBM or SLBM are accountable as ICBMs and SLBMs of that type under the START I Treaty. Based on this determination, in 1996 a private Canadian firm began working with Russia's Scientific and Technologies Center (STC) to sign a Joint Launch Services Agreement to use Canada's SpacePort Canada in Churchill, Manitoba, as a commercial launch site for Russia's START family of rockets, all done in accordance with the START I Treaty.

The policy of the United States regarding the use of U.S. ballistic missiles that will be made excess under the START I and START II Treaties is to retain these missiles for U.S. Government use or to eliminate them. Of course, such use will be consistent with U.S. international obligations, including the START I Treaty and the Missile Technology Control Regime. Although the United States has encouraged other governments with excess ballistic missiles to adopt a similar policy, some governments of the Former Soviet Union plan to market commercial space launch services using excess ballistic missiles. While, the United States will consider, on a case-by-case basis, requests of U.S. commercial companies to avail themselves of these services, the U.S. will grant export licenses for such uses only if they comply with the START Treaty and our missile nonproliferation policy, including MTCR Guidelines.

The MTCR Guidelines permit its members to support the space programs of other countries or international cooperation in such programs "...as long as such programs could not contribute to delivery systems for weapons of mass destruction." As a matter of policy, the U.S. does not encourage new space launch programs, and U.S. exports to foreign space programs are reviewed to ensure that they will not contribute to a missile program of proliferation concern. The U.S. Government will support cooperative space programs with Russia and Ukraine, so long as there is no contribution to a missile program of concern under the MTCR.