Index

Copyright 2000 Community Television Foundation 
of South Florida, Inc.  
The Nightly Business Report
SHOW: NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT (NPR 6:30:00 pm ET)

July 7, 2000

Transcript # 00070701-118  

SECTION: Business

LENGTH: 4310 words

HEADLINE: Nightly Business Report>

GUESTS: Mark Skousen

BYLINE: Paul Kangas, Susie Gharib

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GHARIB: Paul, the Pentagon is getting ready for a key test of a national missile defense program. If successful, it could pave the way for one of the most expensive American weapons systems ever.
 
And as Darren Gersh reports, it's also one of the most controversial.
 
DARREN GERSH, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: Some time tonight a missile like this one will take off from Vandenberg Air Force Base (ph) in California. A few moments later, a missile like this will take off more than 4,000 miles away in the Pacific. If everything goes as planned, a kill vehicle carried by the second missile will turn the first missile into space dust. In a world where many countries are now developing missiles capable of reaching our shores, defense analysts consider a missile defense inevitable.
 
BRETT LAMBERT, DEFENSE ANALYST, DFI INTERNATIONAL: The question is one of timing. When does it make the most sense politically and the most sense practically from a technical point of view?
 
GERSH: For defense contractors like Boeing (BA), Lockheed Martin (LMT), Raytheon (RTN) and TRW (TRW), the national missile defense program has meant billions in research and development dollars. The goal is to deploy a working system in 2005. For defense contractors, deployment could mean profits of $2 billion or more. But first, those companies will have to overcome the greatest technological challenge the Pentagon has ever taken on.
 
LAMBERT: The most concerning thing about a program like this is that there are a million things that can go right and if one thing goes wrong, it will be a failure.
 
GERSH: Critics accuse the Pentagon of dumbing down tonight's test to guarantee a success. Defense contractors have yet to prove a system will work despite already spending more than it cost to develop the atom bomb and Stealth bomber combined.
 
JOHN PIKE, DEFENSE ANALYST, FEDERATION OF AMERICAN
 
SCIENTISTS: Evidently, they are clearly working on a very difficult problem if they have managed to spend this much money and this much time and still not have anything to show for it.
 
GERSH: Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the markets have had little reason to worry about national security. But critics say building a missile defense will give them one.
 
PIKE: We're going to have an arms race in a few years with China building up to offset our missile defense and India and Pakistan playing catch up with China.
 
GERSH: If tonight's test succeeds, a panel of experts will likely suggest the president take the next step and build an advanced radar system in Alaska. If it fails, the pentagon will try one more test before the end of the year.
 
Darren Gersh, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, Washington.

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