Index

DATE=3/21/2000 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=U-S MISSILE DEFENSE (L-ONLY) NUMBER=2-260450 BYLINE=JON TKACH DATELINE=WASHINGTON INTERNET=YES CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: The head of the Pentagon's national missile defense program says a testing delay will not keep President Clinton from deciding this summer on whether to deploy an anti-missile system. The delay comes on the heels of a failed test in January. And as V-O-A's Jon Tkach (pron: KOTCH) reports, Lieutenant General Ronald Kadish says his office needs a little more time to make the fixes before launching another 100- million-dollar test. TEXT: The third try at shooting down a mock-missile warhead over the Pacific Ocean had been set for late April. But now, General Kadish says the Pentagon is aiming for June 26th. It is two months later than planned, but he says President Clinton will still have the information he needs to decide this summer whether or not to begin deploying a national missile defense system. The General says with the President's okay, the program should be up and running by the Congressional deadline. /// KADISH ACT /// As of today, even with this slip on the flight test, we are just about on schedule to deploy this system in 2005. /// END ACT /// So far, one test of the system has been a success. But during a second test, the "kill vehicle" swerved off course and missed its target. Defense officials blame a cooling system leak and General Kadish says scientists now know how to fix the problem. President Clinton has been under increasing political pressure to approve the deployment of the system. Jim Lindsay of the Brookings Institute says this summer's deadline was set with politics - much more than science - in mind. /// LINDSAY ACT /// It was a deadline set by the President to diffuse pressure from Republicans on Capitol Hill who were really pushing for missile defense. //// END ACT /// Mr. Lindsay says Democrats are worried that Vice President Al Gore's presidential campaign will take a hit if President Clinton does not decide to begin deployment. /// BEGIN OPT /// The system is being designed to fend off a limited ballistic missile attack. Supporters of national missile defense say the United States is facing growing threats from rogue states such as North Korea and Iran. But even with the recent glitches, Mr. Lindsay says, technology is still way ahead of diplomacy. /// END OPT /// Russia and U-S allies in Europe have raised concerns that deployment could lead to another arms race. And even the staunchest supporters concede that such a system is banned by the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. (signed) NEB/PT NEB/JON/ 21-Mar-2000 16:53 PM EDT (21-Mar-2000 2153 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .