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|Friday, July 07, 2000, updated at 07:35(GMT+8)|
Nobel Scientists Says Missile Shield Would Be DangerousFifty Nobel Prize laureates warned President Bill Clinton on Thursday in Washington that deployment of a National Missile Defense (NMD) shield would be "premature, wasteful, and dangerous."
In a letter addressed to Clinton, the scientists said NMD "would offer little protection and would do grave harm to this nation's core security interests."
Particularly, a dangerous arms race would unfold as new offensive weapons were developed that would render the system ineffective, according to the group, members of the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) set up in 1945 by scientists who built the first atomic bomb.
"While the benefits of the proposed anti-ballistic missile system are dubious, the dangers created by a decision to deploy are clear," the letter said.
The missile shield is touted as a defense against small hostile states said to be developing missiles capable of hitting the United States.
"It would be difficult to persuade Russia or China that the United States is wasting tens of billions of dollars on an ineffective missile system against small states that are unlikely to launch a missile attack on the US," said the letter, drafted by Hans Berthe, the 1967 Nobel physics prizewinner, who headed the group that developed the first nuclear bomb.
"The Russians and Chinese must therefore conclude that the presently planned system is a stage in developing a bigger system directed against them. They may respond by restarting an arms race in ballistic missiles and having missiles in a dangerous `launch-on-warning' positions."
The shield will be tested for the third time on Friday by the Pentagon. If the intercept goes as planned, the Pentagon will almost certainly recommend that the United States go forward with deployment of the initial phase of the 60 billion dollar program. The final decision rests with Clinton.
"Even if the next planned test of the proposed anti-ballistic missile system works as planned, any movement toward deployment would be premature, wasteful and dangerous," the letter said.
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