- The Washington Times - Friday, June 21, 2002

The United States will perfect a missile defense system now that it is free from the ABM treaty, the director of the Missile Defense Agency said yesterday.
"Our goal is to have limited defenses against long-range missiles and robust defenses against short-range missiles," MDA Director Lt. Gen. Ronald Kadish said in a briefing at the Heritage Foundation.
The withdrawal last week from the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty with Russia came after a series of successful U.S. tests to intercept incoming missiles. The treaty barred missile defense systems.
According to Gen. Kadish, President Bush's decision to exempt the United States from the treaty's legal barriers will greatly expedite the process of implementing a working missile defense system "as soon as possible."
"Our challenges are still great, but we are now poised to deal with them," he said.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld re-established the old Ballistic Missile Defense Organization (BMDO) as the MDA on Jan. 4.
Gen. Kadish, who first became involved as director of the BMDO in June 1999, said that although the MDA is convinced ground-based missile defense systems can work, they must nonetheless be proven reliable in the presence of countermeasures and different altitudes and environments.
"We have a complex, tough problem defending against ballistic missiles," he said.
The United States, in two test programs running since 1999, has successfully intercepted both short- and long-range ballistic warheads. Ground-based hit-to-kill systems hit seven out of 10 targets in the first test and four out of six in the second.
The hit-to-kill method of missile defense involves kinetic energy weapons known as "kill vehicles." These are small (about a yard long and 150 pounds) but accurate propulsion devices sent to hit ballistic warheads in flight and essentially stop them head-on.
In addition to the ongoing ground-based tests, the United States also is pursuing developments in space- and sea-based hit-to-kill systems and space-based lasers.
The MDA anticipates more flexibility in pushing its program with elected officials.
"I see a summer of intense consultations at all levels of government," Gen. Kadish said.
Part of that challenge is getting Congress to approve the price tag. The MDA requested $7.8 billion for 2002 and $7.5 billion in 2003.
Gen. Kadish also said the expanded program will require a multilateral effort in order to address the needs of U.S. allies. The MDA will continue providing opportunities for different levels of participation by countries such as Russia and Japan.


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