The United States Government remains convinced that the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty remains a cornerstone of strategic stability, and is committed to its continued effectiveness. The Treaty plays a critical role in enabling achievement of significant reductions in offensive nuclear weapons under the START treaties.

Signed in 1972 by the United States and the Soviet Union, the ABM Treaty prohibits deployment of a nationwide defense against strategic ballistic missile attack. By a Protocol signed in 1974, the Treaty now allows one precisely limited ABM deployment area in each country, to protect either the national capital or an ICBM deployment area. The Soviet Union chose, and Russia now maintains, an ABM defense of its national capital, Moscow. The United States completed the Safeguard ABM system defending the ICBM complex near Grand Forks, North Dakota. This system was operational for a very short time and has been inactive since 1976.

To promote implementation of the Treaty, the Parties meet at least twice a year in the Standing Consultative Commission (SCC), established pursuant to Treaty Article XIII. In addition, a formal review every five years is called for in Article XIV.

Recent ABM Treaty Developments

When the Clinton Administration came into office, it examined the ABM Treaty thoroughly in the context of an overall review of national security issues. It concluded that the Treaty should be retained, and its viability and integrity carefully maintained. Two questions had to be considered right away: 1) who were the parties to the Treaty following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, and 2) how would advanced theater missile defense (TMD) systems be distinguished from ABM systems, which are limited by the Treaty.

Treaty Succession. Following the breakup of the Soviet Union, the United States decided that it would accept as a Treaty Party any of the New Independent States (NIS) that choose to be a Party to the Treaty. In negotiations in the Standing Consultative Commission (SCC), the Treaty's implementing body, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia, Ukraine, and the United States have been drafting an agreement to codify legal succession to the Treaty by New Independent States wishing to become Parties. Work is still ongoing in this area.

Theater Ballistic Missile Defenses. The ABM Treaty's limits apply to defenses against strategic ballistic missiles, such as ICBMs and SLBMs. The Treaty does not limit theater ballistic missile defenses (TMD), per sé, but it prohibits making non-ABM defensive systems capable of use in an ABM role. Thus, a Treaty party cannot test non-ABM systems in an ABM mode or give them capability to counter strategic ballistic missiles. Because we agree that the Treaty does not provide a clear distinction between ABM and non-ABM systems, such as theater ballistic missile defenses, the United States, Russia, and the other interested NIS are attempting to clarify the demarcation between strategic and theater missile defenses.

From late in 1993 and throughout 1994, these negotiations on a "demarcation" between ABM and TMD were conducted in several sessions of the Standing Consultative Commission and through technical consultations in the capitals of the participating states.

Consultations. In 1995, most of the work took place in political-level U.S.-Russian bilateral consultations outside the SCC. The other SCC participating states recognize that the U.S. and Russia must take the lead in solving the demarcation issue.

Progress at the May Summit. At their May Summit in Moscow, Presidents Clinton and Yeltsin also addressed the ABM/TMD issue, agreeing on a joint statement of principles reflecting mutual U.S.-Russian views on the basis of which the demarcation question should be resolved. First, these principles restate the commitment of both sides to the ABM Treaty, and state that both must have the option to deploy effective theater missile defenses. Second, the principles make clear that the United States and Russia are not trying to apply the treaty to TMD systems that may simply have a theoretical capability against some ICBM and SLBM types but which would not be militarily significant in the context of operational considerations. The sides will take into account "realistic" versus "theoretical" capabilities of TMD systems. In addition, the sides agreed that theater missile defenses may be deployed that will not pose a realistic threat to the strategic nuclear force of the other side and are not tested to give such systems that capability.

One of the other principles in the Joint Statement stipulates that the sides will not deploy TMD systems for use against each other. The United States has told Russia that U.S. TMD programs are not intended for deployment or use against Russian strategic forces but rather are being developed and deployed to meet regional ballistic missile threats from such sources as Iraq, Iran, and North Korea.

Next Steps. Following agreement in political-level U.S.-Russian discussions on the framework for a demarcation understanding, the SCC met in Geneva during December 1995 to work on its codification into a legally-binding form. At these sessions, the participating states (Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia, Ukraine, and the United States) also worked on Treaty succession. Discussions on demarcation will continue in the political channel as negotiations continue in the SCC. In the meantime, the U.S. will continue to make compliance determinations regarding higher-velocity systems based on the relevant provisions of the ABM Treaty, as we have done since the Treaty was concluded in 1972.

National Missile Defense. The Administration has made deployment of highly effective theater missile defenses its first priority. Its second priority is to develop a capability to defend against intercontinental ballistic missiles -- our National Missile Defense program -- and the cruise missiles which may threaten the United States in the future. This NMD deployment readiness program calls for developing, within 3 years, elements of an initial NMD system that could be deployed within 3 years of a deployment decision, with earliest operational capability in 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. The year 1995 recorded significant progress in dealing with missile proliferation.

Russia, South Africa and Brazil, all significant potential suppliers of missiles and related technology, became members of the Missile Technology Control Regime. The exchange of information among partners, and coordination of interdiction of illegal exports, continued to improve.

Notwithstanding the successes of the Regime, several countries continue to reject the Regime's standards. The U.S. works bilaterally and multilaterally to encourage these countries to accept MTCR restrictions on the export of missiles and technology which could contribute to the proliferation of delivery systems for weapons of mass destruction.

The MTCR is the only multinational instrument for dealing with missile proliferation. With the admission of Russia, South Africa and Brazil, its 28 members include all but a few of the nations capable of exporting missiles or technology. The Regime is acknowledged as the international missile nonproliferation norm, even by those who do not accept it. The U.S. will continue to work to strengthen the Regime, and to convince those few remaining rogue exporters to abide by the Regime, and ultimately to qualify for membership.

With Russia, South Africa and Brazil accepted as members, the U.S. will focus its bilateral efforts on the remaining nonmember significant potential suppliers and, increasingly, on areas of tension where missile proliferation plays a part.

Ukraine and the U.S. are working together to enable Ukraine to qualify for MTCR membership.

In South Asia, the U.S. is working to defuse the missile rivalry between India and Pakistan, fed by Chinese missile-related exports to Pakistan and by India's development of indigenous ballistic missiles.

China has made important missile nonproliferation commitments, including to the original MTCR guidelines, although it has not agreed to abide by the current MTCR guidelines. However, Chinese firms have continued missile-related exports to Pakistan and Iran. ACDA has strongly supported efforts by the Administration to influence Chinese behavior in positive ways consistent with U.S. nonproliferation laws and policies

North Korea has been an active supplier of SCUD missiles to countries in regions of tension and continues its development of several new MTCR Category I WMD-capable missiles.

ACDA is an active participant in all of these processes, including bilateral discussions with partners and nonpartners, the annual MTCR Plenary and technical experts' meetings and also in internal U.S. missile nonproliferation policy formulation and implementation.

ACDA serves as the executive secretary to the interagency 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 inputs 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 the Treaty's accountability and verification provisions. 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 insure that such programs are not used to circumvent either limits on strategic missiles or missile proliferation controls.

In 1994, Russia and Ukraine took the position that ICBMs and SLBMs used for space launch purposes are not accountable under the START Treaty. The United States vigorously opposed this position, which was in conflict with, and would have directly undercut, the provisions of the Treaty. The U.S. arguments prevailed. 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 use the first stage of an ICBM or SLBM are accountable as ICBMs and SLBMs of that type under 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 United States 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 (MTCR). 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 licences for such uses only if they comply with the START Treaty and the MTCR Guidelines.

The MTCR Guidelines permit its members to support the space programs of other countries or international cooperation in such program " 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, so long as there is no contribution to a missile program of concern under the MTCR.