Index

DATE=1/21/2000 TYPE=U-S OPINION ROUNDUP TITLE=ANOTHER ANTI-MISSILE MISSILE FAILURE NUMBER=6-11645 BYLINE=ANDREW GUTHRIE DATELINE=WASHINGTON EDITOR=ASSIGNMENTS TELEPHONE=619-3335 CONTENT= INTRO: An unsuccessful anti-ballistic missile test by the United States is a popular topic on many newspaper editorial pages at week's end, as the nation debates the wisdom of going ahead with a defense against possible missile attacks by so-called "rogue" nations. Now, here with a sampling is _____________ and today's U-S Opinion Roundup. TEXT: During his presidency, Ronald Reagan confronted the then Soviet Union with a new idea - a shield of space satellites and special missiles that would destroy hostile intercontinental ballistic missiles (I-C-B-Ms). The project, which would have taken years to develop and possibly trillions of dollars to build, quickly took on the name "Star Wars" after the popular motion pictures of the time. However, after billions of research and development dollars, and a change in U-S administrations, the idea came to be considered impracticable, though some research did continue. Last year, in response to studies indicating the United States could be attacked by a single I-C-B-M fired from a so-called "rogue" nation such as Iraq or North Korea, the missile defense idea was reborn on a smaller scale. Now, the idea is to develop an interceptor that could track and knock down a single hostile missile, rather than a fleet of such missiles. /// OPT /// Another problem say critics, is that Russia feels very strongly that such a system, if implemented, violates the terms of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. /// END OPT /// The latest test, this week, of this scaled-down anti- missile missile failed, prompting a new round of editorials both pro and con on the topic. This is what The Los Angeles Times had to say on the subject. VOICE: The Pentagon blames a pair of malfunctioning sensors for Tuesday's failure of a 100-million dollar test of a missile interceptor system that it hopes can defend the country against intercontinental attack from rouge states. The test, which followed a claimed successful test in October, saw an interceptor rocket fired from Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands try to destroy a mock warhead launched from Vandenberg Air force Base. It may have come very close to succeeding, but in the warhead-killing business close isn't good enough. An interceptor must strike an incoming warhead directly. Until that feat can be demonstrated with some consistency, deployment of what's known as a National Missile Defense [N-M-D] system makes no sense. TEXT: The Pentagon project also comes in for criticism from The Atlanta Constitution, which compares the test firing to a Broadway show. VOICE: This week's test ... can be likened to a full- dress rehearsal. Every actor in the cast played a part; even a computerized battle-management system made its debut. But the finale fell flat. The interceptor missed its target, a dummy warhead. Given this last-act fizzle, a smart producer might cut his losses and fold [cancel] the show. But neither the White House nor the Pentagon has shown that much pragmatism. TEXT: Describing it as "A big test and a big failure," The San Francisco Chronicle says the project is "An Anti-Missile Program That Appears Off Course," and adds that "Time and credibility may be running out on the anti-missile missile ... The Chicago Tribune, trying to explain the difficulty of the interception by calling it "Hitting a bullet with a bullet," adds: VOICE: ... the test clearly demonstrated one thing: It's premature to order deployment of this 12-point- five-billion dollar shield. It's not ready. ... This is a system well worth spending the money to thoroughly research and develop - and to deploy if it can be proved to be effective in deterring or downing enemy missiles. But so far, it is not yet feasible. TEXT: Newsday on New York's Long Island expressed skepticism as well. VOICE: Don't rush to deploy [a] costly missile- defense system that violates the A-B-M [Anti- Ballistic-Missile] treaty. ... There are plenty of reasons why a hasty decision to deploy an entry-level missile-defense network would be a bad idea for the United States. The putative threat it's designed to counter - a desperate attack by at most a few missiles from a loose-cannon state such as North Korea or Iraq - is farfetched. The low-ball cost estimate, certain to increase at warp (high) speed even if the system is never expanded ... is 12-point-seven-billion (dollars) and counting ... Oh, and by the way, there's no assurance - in fact there are serious doubts - that the U-S missile-defense network could actually work as advertised. TEXT: In Oklahoma, The Tulsa World is discouraged both at the cost and the result of this latest test. VOICE: The idea of satellites and missiles protecting the United States from foreign nuclear attack ... persists. But it took another blow this week. For 100-million dollars, the nation got to see the Pentagon take a shot at an incoming mock warhead - and miss. ... This latest test follows reports of another test in October that at first was said to be successful. It later turned out that it, too, failed. ... Should the United States continue its research and tests into such a system? Yes. After all, technology does change. But there is no need to rush into a costly and possibly unworkable system too soon. TEXT: Here now is what The Fort Worth [Texas] Star- Telegram, has to say on the subject: VOICE: The kill vehicle came "extremely close," officials said, to making an encounter of the destructive kind. Of course, they weren't pitching horseshoes; therefore, close doesn't count. ... The failed test, however, does not provide conclusive proof that such a system cannot be made to work. But it is [a] significant setback that should give President Clinton pause about his plan to approve the deployment of the system later this year. TEXT: However, The Washington Times, which strongly supports development of the system, reminds everyone: VOICE: ... The fact is that you test a system to see if it works, right? ... And it's not as though there aren't good reasons out there to work overtime to make N-M-D functional. Last week, it was ... revealed that Iran is thought to be close to a nuclear bomb, thanks to the helpfulness of Russia ... In other words, the critics should not be so ready to rejoice. We will all live to regret it if we don't get the technology right in time. TEXT: On that note, we conclude this sampling of opinion for and against the development of a new U-S anti-missile shield. NEB/ANG/JP 21-Jan-2000 15:14 PM EDT (21-Jan-2000 2014 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .