- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 17, 2001

Late Saturday night the U.S. military accomplished what scientists describe as "hitting a bullet with a bullet." Launched on a booster rocket from Kwajalein Atoll in the Pacific Ocean, a separated "kill vehicle" traveling 4.5 miles per second scored a direct hit 144 miles above the ocean against an equally swift dummy warhead released from an intercontinental ballistic missile that had been launched 29 minutes earlier from Vandenburg Air Force Base in California, nearly 5,000 miles from the atoll.
The successful anti-missile test represents a major step forward in the Bush administration's efforts to deploy an effective national missile defense system, perhaps as early as 2005. To reach this admirable goal, the Pentagon intends to significantly accelerate its testing schedule. During the next 14 months, the Pentagon plans to conduct 10 tests of a ground-based system, which is designed to destroy warheads during their mid-course phase this is what occurred during Saturday's test and during their terminal phase after the warheads have re-entered the Earth's atmosphere. Seven other tests are scheduled for sea-launched interceptors designed to destroy short, medium- and long-range ballistic missiles during their boost phase and mid-course phase. Other tests would be conducted involving Boeing 747 jets equipped with lasers designed to destroy missiles during their boost phase.
The Bush administration's determination to deploy a multi-layered national missile defense system confirms what President Bush signalled as a candidate and suggested during his first six months in office: He envisions a multi-tiered national missile defense system that is far more robust than the ground-based version his predecessor contemplated. Moreover, the extremely ambitious testing schedule demonstrates that Mr. Bush wants very much to make up for time squandered during the Clinton-Gore administration, which never embraced the concept of missile defense in the first place.
As Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday, some of these planned tests would violate the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty "in months rather than in years." Hence, the need to "withdraw from or replace it" is fast approaching, Mr. Wolfowitz told the committee. The United States would continue negotiating with Russia to amend the ABM Treaty in order to permit the testing planned by the Pentagon, Mr. Wolfowitz said. However, if Russian acquiescence was not forthcoming, he said the United States was fully prepared to withdraw from the ABM Treaty by exercising its right to provide six-months' notice of its intention to do so.
Given the fact that treaty violations would occur within "months" and the requirement to provide six-months' notice of withdrawal, Mr. Bush should clearly explain to Russian President Vladimir Putin during the upcoming G-8 summit in Italy that the window of negotiations is rapidly closing. Decision time has arrived.

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