Soviet Missile Defense System Prompted Massive U.S. Nuclear Strike Plan, Upcoming Story in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists Reveals for the First Time

U.S. Response to Soviet System Suggests Russia and China Would Respond the Same Way to a U.S. Missile Defense System, Authors Say

WASHINGTON (February 25, 2004) -- The U.S. military planned to attack a limited Soviet antiballistic missile system (ABM) with more than 100 nuclear weapons in the late 1960s, according to an article in the March/April issue of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. According to the authors of the article, the U.S. response 35 years ago suggests that the Bush administration's plan to build a missile defense system could generate a similar response from Russia and China today. (For the story, click here.)

"The U.S. military's plan to obliterate the Russian defense system years ago calls into question the Bush administration's claim that its own missile defense system would not cause Russia or China to modernize their forces to try and overwhelm U.S. defenses," said Hans M. Kristensen, a consultant to NRDC (the Natural Resources Defense Council) and the lead author of the Bulletin article.

Documents released under the Freedom of the Information Act reveal for the first time that the Pentagon wrote a special strike plan to destroy the Soviet ABM system that included more than 100 Minuteman intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and a number of Polaris sea-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs). All components of the Soviet missile defense system -- missile interceptors, battle radars and distant early warning radars -- were high-priority targets for U.S. war planners, who continue to target the system today.

"The Soviets built their ABM system to defend against nuclear attack," said Kristensen. "Ironically, the system attracted nuclear weapons."

Later this year the Bush administration plans to begin deployment of a limited ballistic missile defense system at Fort Greely, Alaska, and Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Initially there will be 10 silo-based interceptors. In a few years the system is scheduled to expand to 100 interceptors. The Bush administration's fiscal year 2005 budget mentions a third as-yet-unidentified site.