Press Release
07. July 2000

NMD Test Rigged for Success


It is a scientist's dream come true: for a thirty minute experiment, he is allowed to spend $100 million and does not have to abide by any kind of scientific standards. Better than that, he can decide for himself what the criteria should be for the success or failure of the experiment. This is exactly the method the US Defense Department is employing in the third test of its National Missile Defense system on Friday, July 7. In the latest Policy Note from the Berlin Information Center for Transatlantic Security, Denise Groves says: "100 million dollars will be wasted to conduct a rigged test whose results will have no practical effect either way on the decision to begin deployment of NMD. That's because the decision has already been made."

The results of Friday's test will be used in the Pentagon's "Deployment Readiness Review," which will offer a recommendation to the President on whether or not the US should begin construction of NMD. The test, which is meant to destroy an incoming warhead above the earth’s atmosphere, is riddled with problems, however. For example, the fake attack will come as no surprise to the missile defense crew since they are fully briefed on the timing, direction, and type of the attacking missile. They also know exactly what the single decoy will look like. In addition, the warhead will carry a beacon so that the early warning radars can see it more easily. Finally, rather than testing the real equipment that will be incorporated into the NMD system, substitute—or "surrogate"—technology will be used instead.

The fact that this test is wholly unscientific apparently does not matter. The Pentagon is already claiming that even if the intercept test fails, they could still make the recommendation for deployment. Politicians from both major political parties, including the two Presidential candidates, also generally agree that construction should begin as soon as possible in order for the system to ready by 2005. The Clinton Administration has already conducted a legal review to determine if pouring concrete in Alaska would constitute a violation of the ABM Treaty. In light of these facts, Washington's decision on NMD is a foregone conclusion. Otfried Nassauer, Director of BITS, characterizes Friday's test rather bluntly: "In the end, this is an extremely expensive, neatly choreographed, but totally pointless exercise."


For further information contact:  Denise Groves at BITS, Tel. 0049-30-44 68 58-25