Soviet Perceptions of the SDI
What are the Soviet perceptions of the Strategic Defense Initiative and how it is still relevant in the current Russian worldview, particularly in regard to the proposed US National Missile Defense program? What is the proper US response?
Intelligence & Homeland Security
In 1983, President Ronald Reagan appeared on national television and announced to the American people his plans for a new directive - the Strategic Defense Initiative. President Reagan was adamant about nuclear arms control, and was passionate about keeping the people of his country safe. He was confident ...view middle of the document...
d.). By this time, the major states not only wanted control of and protection on the green earth, they were looking to the heavens. In 1967, the Outer Space Treaty was put into order. It required "States Parties to the Treaty undertake not to place in orbit around the Earth any objects carrying nuclear weapons or any other kinds of weapons of mass destruction, install such weapons on celestial bodies, or station such weapons in outer space in any other manner" and would forbid the US from pre-positioning in Earth orbit any devices powered by nuclear weapons and any devices capable of "mass destruction" (Strategic Defense Initiative n.d.). In 1968, the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, aka Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NNPT) was opened. Its purpose was to limit the spread of nuclear weapons, and was extended indefinitely and without condition in 1995. In 1969, President Nixon renamed the Sentinel program to Safeguard and reassigned it to protect "our land-based retaliatory forces against a direct attack by the Soviet Union" (Gilman n.d.).
During these years, the then Soviet Union was not standing idly by and watching the United States assume control over nuclear arms and their guidelines. In 1970, they revealed the A-35 anti-ballistic missile system, or A-35 Aldan. It was a Soviet military battle management radar complex deployed around Moscow to intercept enemy (United States) missiles targeting the city or its surrounding areas. In development since the 1960’s and in operation from 1971 until the 1990’s, it featured the nuclear-tipped exoatmospheric interceptor ABM-1 Galosh. The missile was the first Soviet ABM in operation. The A-35 system was followed by the A-135, operational as of February 2007 (Astronomy n.d.).
[pic]1972 brought the signing of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. Russia considered the ABM Treaty as the cornerstone of strategic stability and one of the most important strategic documents between Moscow and Washington (Mizin 2003). It made the anti-BMD point of view official by forbidding the Soviet Union or United States to deploy extensive missile defenses. Each superpower was allowed by the original treaty to build ABM installations at two "widely separated" locations. In 1974, a protocol was added to the ABM Treaty that reduced the number of permitted installations to one per nation. This policy—far more ambitious than any ABM concept that had been contemplated before—was formalized by Reagan in the National Security Decision Directive 85 two days later (Gilman n.d.).
In a speech given on August 20, 1980, President Carter’s new concept of nuclear strategy was explained. It stated that three requirements must be met in order to deter nuclear war: 1) we must have strategic nuclear forces that can absorb a Soviet first strike and still retaliate with devastating effect; 2) we must meet our security requirements and maintain an overall strategic balance at the lowest and most...