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DATE=3/7/2000 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=MISSILE DEFENSE (L-ONLY) NUMBER=2-259938 BYLINE=JON TKACH DATELINE=WASHINGTON INTERNET=YES CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: A senior U-S defense official says scientists know how to fix the problems that caused a test of the national missile defense program to fail in January. During a Capitol Hill briefing (Tuesday) sponsored by a conservative lobbying group (the Lexington Institute), missile defense proponents said the program is on track for a 2005 deadline. But as V-O- A's Jon Tkach [kotch] reports, U-S policymakers are still plagued by worries that the program could spur another arms race. TEXT: Even the staunchest supporters of a national missile defense program say it will still take a lot of work to get a system up and running. Opponents say it is going to take a scientific miracle. But Major General Peter Franklin of the Defense Department's Ballistic Missile Defense Organization says the military is handling the technical problems that caused an interceptor rocket to miss a mock-enemy warhead over the Pacific Ocean in January. /// FRANKLIN ACT /// We know how to fix this and we will on subsequent flights. /// END ACT /// The project, a scaled down version of President Reagan's proposed "Star Wars" plan of the 1980's, faces bitter opposition from Russia and China. Washington's European allies have also voiced concern, and even the program's backers say its deployment could violate the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. But Republican Senator John Kyl [kile] says too much is at stake for U-S leaders to be constrained by the 28-year-old treaty, which he calls "out of date." /// KYL ACT /// So let us be honest, let us be up front let's understand that the treaty is inconsistent with the kind of deployment that we must have and it is inconsistent with the kind of future technology that we need to be able to develop. /// END ACT /// But Democratic Congressman John Spratt says Washington needs to move cautiously. He says diplomacy has actually gotten rid of more missiles than any defense program in the works could ever hope to shoot down. The director of space policy at the Federation of American Scientists - John Pike - told V-O-A in a telephone interview that Washington has very little diplomatic room to maneuver on the issue. He says, in the end, the system will only make the world a more dangerous place. /// PIKE ACT /// It doesn't really matter how much money we spend on missile defense, all we're going to wind up with is more missiles pointed at America. /// END ACT /// President Clinton is due to decide in June whether to give a formal go-ahead on deployment of the project. It is expected to cost nearly 13-billion dollars over the next six years. NEB/JON/gm 07-Mar-2000 17:30 PM EDT (07-Mar-2000 2230 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .