- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 2, 2001

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Military officials postponed a planned missile defense test yesterday because of bad weather over Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, where a dummy warhead was set to be launched over the Pacific to be hit by an interceptor rocket.
Officials plan to try again tonight, the Pentagon said in a statement. The weather could have made the test unsafe, the statement said.
The test is part of the Bush administration's plan to develop a system that can shoot down an enemy's intercontinental missiles before they reach U.S. soil.
On Friday, the head of the U.S. missile defense program said the test would be considered a success even if the interceptor and dummy warhead failed to smash into each other 144 miles above the South Pacific.
"This is not a pass-fail test," said Lt. Gen. Ronald Kadish, director of the Pentagon's Ballistic Missile Defense Organization. "Success would be if we learned a lot and gained confidence for the next step."
Supporters say America needs a missile defense system to protect against long-range missiles fired by "rogue states."
Critics say that risk is very low because such missiles are expensive and easily can be traced back to their source.
Russia also opposes the U.S. missile defense drive, saying the effort will violate the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty.
That pact bans such missile defense systems to keep one nation from developing a missile shield that enables it to safely attack its enemies.
Missile defense proponents say the treaty is a Cold War relic which should be discarded. President Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin failed to agree on scrapping or changing the ABM treaty during their recent summit.
The latest test would not violate the ABM treaty, Gen. Kadish said. Three planned parts of the test, such as using ship-based Aegis radar to track the dummy warhead, were dropped because of concerns about violating the pact.
The test planned for yesterday was nearly identical to one performed in July, in which the interceptor destroyed a dummy warhead.
Critics, however, say the current tests are rigged so tightly controlled that they do not prove the anti-missile system would work during a real attack.
"This test is meaningless," said retired Navy Rear Adm. Eugene Carroll. "It doesn't prove anything. If it succeeds it proves only that a Hollywood script, carefully drawn, will create a compelling scene."
Gen. Kadish said such criticism misses the point of the tests, which are designed to evaluate various key parts of the system so they can be perfected before final, realistic tests are done.

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