The Missile-Defense Mistake: Undermining Strategic Stability and the ABM Treaty

Courtesy Reuters

Among the global challenges of the twentieth century, none was more important than eliminating the danger of nuclear war. Together, Russia, the United States, and other countries substantially minimized this threat and began the process of limiting and reducing nuclear arsenals. This effort resulted from

a universal recognition of the strategic stability concept, the cornerstone of which is the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty. Strategic stability stemmed from mutual renunciation of strategic defense systems against intercontinental ballistic missiles, which eliminated incentives for the Soviet Union and the United States to build up offensive nuclear capabilities. Both states switched instead to a policy of mutual deterrence, at reduced levels of strategic armaments. In other words, the rejection of the nuclear "shield" made the nuclear "sword" less dangerous.

With the abm treaty as its root, a system of international accords on arms control and disarmament sprang up in the past decades. It includes

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