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Home >> Opinion
UPDATED: 17:30, May 18, 2007
US "Anti-Missile System": protecting itself or playing with fire?
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The recent launch of US missile defense system in Poland and Czech has aroused concern globally. Russia, while raising its serious doubts on it, has stepped up military preparations accordingly. Will a potential confrontation between the U.S. and Russia be further activated?

Great ambition

The missile defense system of the United States has undergone half a century of development and evolutions since the mid 1950s. During the period of the US-Soviet nuclear confrontation in the cold war, the U.S. developed the Nike-Zeus system, the sentry system and airborne control system to cope with or confront the former Soviet Union. In the early 1970s, the nuclear forces of the U.S. and the former Soviet Union had come into a strategic balance for ensuring the destruction of the other side. But both sides felt overburdened both economically and technologically. So the two countries reached an anti-ballistic missile (ABM) treaty in 1972. In 1976, the U.S. announced to close its "sentry" missile defense system, and began researches on non-nuclear missile defense system.

After the (Ronald) Reagan administration came to power in early 1980s, it set forth the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI)), or the Star Wars Plans in March 1983. As this plan was complex with an amazing cost and most of its technologies still in experimental stages, President George Bush moderated it as a "limited defense plan", or the "intelligent cobble" plan, which got agrounded with the collapse of the former Soviet Union.

Great readjustment

After assuming his presidency, Bill Clinton in May 1993 announced the termination of the Star War Plan and replaced it with the ballistic missile early warning system, which comprises the theater missile defense system (TMD) and the national missile defense system (NMD). Owing to a lack of confidence for technology and practical efficacy, Clinton announced he would not want to deploy the national defense system for the time being.

But substantial progress was scored during the Clinton era. Developments in East Asia, particularly in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), have given an important boost to demand for TMD and NMD. It first reached agreement with the Republic of Korea (ROK) in 1994 and began to deploy the "Patriot" missiles in the ROK-US military bases. Again, in 1998, the U.S. reached consensus with Japan and jointly developed the theater missile defense system. And the Japanese side announced that a ballistic missile defense system would be completed by the end of March 2008. Furthermore, the US side attempted to drag Taiwan to the missile defense system.

After coming to power, President George W. Bush has seeked to build an integrated missile defense system to merge TMD and NMD, to be simply called by a joint name of the missile defense system.

Since the 9/11 attacks occurred in New York in 2001, the homeland security was listed as a matter of urgency in the U.S., and the Bush administration then stepped up the tempo for researching and deploying the national missile defense system. In December 17, 2002, President George W. Bush announced that he had directed the secretary of defense to field, by 2004, the first phase of a ground-based missile defense. The system is initially intended to defense the United States against long-range ballistic missiles that North Korea might deploy in the future.

Great deployment

With the homeland of the United States as the center, the great deployment takes East Asia and Europe as its two wings. The missile interception system of Fort Greely and another airbase have started monitoring and tracking seriously the missile launches and their orbits or paths, so as to protect the US homeland from being attacked. The Zeus maritime defense system under the jurisdiction of the Pacific Command has been deployed to the area of the Sea of Japan.

The multi-layer defense has to be adopted in order to raise the successful rate of interception, said the American military side. Therefore, the U.S. is seeking to deploy bases within its European allies, if it succeeds in building interception bases and radar bases. Then, its missile defense system takes the shape with its homeland as its center and East Asia and Europe as the two wings.

Great hidden risk

Although the U.S.' reason for seeking overseas anti-missile bases is to prevent or stem missile attacks by the DPRK and Iran, the existing layout is, nevertheless, targeted directly and entirely at both Russia and China, and this is precisely the reason to arouse strong opposition of Russia. Despite the fact that the acute disputes between the U.S. and Russia do not effect a new round of "cold war", what the U.S. has done on the anti-missile issue will, however, produce a profound effect in the global strategic layout at present.

First, impairing the strategic stability among big powers;

Second, punching and giving rise to regional security;

Thirdly, negatively effecting the internal stability of the relevant nations and,

Finally, increasing the offensive nature of the US foreign policy.

Its author is a research fellow of the Institute of War Theory and Strategic Studies under the Chinese (PLA) Academy of Military Sciences, and is translated by People's Daily Online

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