Recent articles on the Pacific Test Bed, Fort Greely, Kodiak, and the ABM Treaty
Click here for Fairbanks Daily News Miner articles.
Heated Arctic dispute/Greenland, Alaska natives balk at new U.S. military plans. Nov. 3, San Francisco Chronicle.
US, Russia likely to reach agreement on missile defense: report. Washington (AFP) Nov. 1, 2001.
Postponement of Missile Defense System Tests is Disingenuous: Testing Program Not Currently Limited by ABM Treaty. Oct. 29, 2001 - Union of Concerned Scientists.
Military Sees Win Win in Alaska. LA Times, Oct. 27, 2001.
Pentagon Puts Off Missile Testing. Thursday, October 25, 2001 - Washington Post.
Alaska Antimissile site: Too close for Russian's Comfort?: New York Times, September 26, 2001.
Democrats Drop NMD Protest.
Democrats voice new concerns about Alaska missile site: Democratic US Congress Representatives' letter to the BMDO's General Kadish and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. July 27, 2001.
In anti-missile test, target signaled its location. July 30, 2001.
Moscow denies missile shield U-turn. July 27, 2001.
US test site will breach missile treaty, says Russia. July 21, 2001, Sydney Morning Herald.
Heated Arctic dispute/Greenland, Alaska natives balk at new U.S. military plans
Saturday, November 3, 2001 (SF Chronicle)
K.L. Capozza, Chronicle Foreign Service
Nuuk, Greenland -- As the Bush administration seeks to upgrade military
bases in the Arctic as part of its land-based missile defense strategy, a
growing voice of opposition is emerging from the Earth's attic.
Although the plan is likely to bring millions of dollars in investment to
isolated northern Inuit communities, many fear that the arrival of missile
silos and advanced radars may also bring environmental destruction.
During the Cold War, the Arctic became ground zero for U.S. communications
and surveillance operations designed to thwart a Soviet attack from the
When the Cold War thawed, military sites were abandoned and left to decay
on the Arctic tundra. Contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs),
petroleum, radioactive waste and solvents, they still pose a toxic threat
to local ecosystems.
Now, communities in Greenland and Alaska are bracing for what promises to
be a second military boom in their territory. But if the military still
has not cleaned up its former sites here, many northerners are wondering
whether they should welcome a new wave of development.
"In order to make room for the Americans' Thule air base in 1953, the
(Inuit) inhabitants were forcibly relocated," said Aqaluq Lynge, president
of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference, Greenland's largest Inuit
organization. "They lost their hunting grounds and were given only tents
to live in."
The 650 displaced Inuit from Thule sued the Danish government, Greenland's
former colonial ruler and current foreign policy representative, over this
episode of forced exile and won a $71,400 settlement.
Now they are filing for more compensation, and their case will be heard in
the Danish Supreme High Court this fall.
"We are fighting for the Americans to clean up Thule and give it back to
us, " said Axel Lund Olsen, deputy mayor of Qaanaaq, the community formed
by displaced Thule Inuit. "If one day a war begins, people are afraid that
if a bomb would hit Thule air base, all of the food we eat from the sea
would be destroyed."
ANIMAL FLESH CONTAMINATED
Greenland natives depend on Arctic wildlife for survival, said Olsen. The
animals that have sustained them for centuries -- walrus, seal, whale and
polar bear -- now carry high burdens of contaminants, which arrive in
Greenland through long-range air currents and from local sources like U.S.
In central Greenland, three radar sites that were part of the Distance
Early Warning radar system (the DEW line) were deserted in 1991, but the
pollution there was never dealt with.
Contamination at the DEW line sites is a problem that plagues communities
from Alaska to Greenland. Between 1953 and 1958, the United States
aggressively built a vast network of radar sites along the 69th parallel
designed to thwart a Soviet attack from the north.
Over 30 tons of PCBs were used in the construction and maintenance of the
DEW line. Discarded transformers made to withstand extreme temperatures
and high electrical currents are the primary source of PCBs, known
The DEW line and other northern radar systems constituted one of the most
expensive military projects ever initiated during peacetime. Now those
sites, largely based in northern Canada, are an environmental blight that
will cost foreign governments hundreds of millions of dollars to clean up.
In Canada alone, the price tag of remediation is estimated at $500
Under the current missile defense plan, the U.S. Defense Department will
spend $200 million to upgrade existing radar technology at Thule.
Eventually, experimental X-band radars may be imported to the site.
According to Lt. Col. Rick Lehner, spokesman for the Ballistic Missile
Defense Organization in Washington, the Defense Department is not required
to complete an environmental impact statement for sites that are located
outside the United States.
He insists that Greenland communities should not worry about environmental
damage because the new radar technology being considered for Thule is
mostly computer equipment that will not bring any additional contaminants
to the site.
MILITARY VIEWED SKEPTICALLY
But the word of the U.S. military is taken with a large dose of skepticism
In 1995, Danish Foreign Minister Niels Helveg Petersen told reporters that
no nuclear weapons were deployed in Greenland. Denmark and Greenland have
a policy barring nuclear weapons within their borders. Two weeks later,
Petersen received a confidential letter from then-U.S. Secretary of
Defense William Perry stating that, indeed, air defense warheads and
surface-to-air missiles had been stored at Thule without Greenland's
knowledge. The crisis became known as "Thulegate" in Denmark.
"We want to be at the table in any discussion about MDP (the missile
defense plan) and Thule," said Malinannguaq Markussen, chairwoman of the
committee on missile defense for the Greenland Home-Rule government.
The missile defense's largest hub will be in Fort Greely, Alaska, where it
has run into heated opposition from environmental groups. The base was
used for biological and chemical weapons testing in the 1950s and 1960s
and housed a nuclear reactor that is now entombed in a sarcophagus
Under the missile defense plan, five missile silos will be built at Fort
Greely as early as next spring.
Environmentalists and native groups who live near the site contend that
dangerous contamination has not been fully addressed.
"Tribal members hiking through that area have found canisters of mustard
gas," said Howard Mermelstein, tribal manager of the Healy Lake Village
Council, an Athabaskan tribe that lives next door to Fort Greely.
On his desk, Mermelstein keeps an unexploded 1945 howitzer shell that a
tribal member found near his office only three weeks ago. He says he uses
it as a paperweight and as a reminder of the dangerous materials that are
still lurking on the tribe's lands.
ARMY PLEDGES CLEANUP
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is charged with cleaning up Fort
Greely, has assured the public that the site no longer poses any health
The Corps is working to remedy all remaining contamination, said John
Killoran, spokesman for the Corps in Alaska.
On Aug. 28, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Alaska Community
Action on Toxics (AKAT) and six other environmental groups filed a lawsuit
against the Defense Department to force it to draft new environmental
impact statements on missile defense activities in Alaska. Like activists
in Greenland, the plaintiffs hope to bring local concerns to the fore as
the missile defense debate heats up in Washington.
"The military has not addressed the existing toxic and radioactive waste
that they have left here," said AKAT Director Pam Miller. "Why should they
be able to come in and put in yet another technology that might possibly
be obsolete in a few years, on top of the mess that they have already
NUCLEAR BOMBS ABOARD WHEN PLANE CRASHED IN 1968
Distrust of U.S. military operations in Greenland runs high, and it
reached a fever pitch last summer when a group of former Thule air base
workers and Danish parliamentarians gained access to declassified U.S.
military documents and found some support for what Greenlanders had
suspected for decades -- that an unexploded American hydrogen bomb
disappeared somewhere off the northeastern coast of Greenland.
In 1968, a B-52 bomber laden with four nuclear bombs crashed 12 miles from
the Thule base.
Decades later, reports of cancer and other illnesses began to surface
among Danish and Greenlander Thule air base workers. In 1995, the Danish
government acknowledged their plight and paid a $15.5 million settlement
to the 1,700 workers who had been exposed to radiation during the 1968
"You still have some leftover plutonium in that area that used to be our
hunting grounds," contends Aqaluq Lynge of the Inuit Circumpolar
Conference. "Now that's off-limits to us as well."
According to a 1991 Danish study, sediment on the bottom of Bylot Sound
near where the plane crashed has extremely elevated levels of radioactive
plutonium contamination -- more than 100,000 becquerels per square meter.
The Danish researchers also found levels of plutonium in bivalves, or
shellfish, up to 1,000 times higher than precrash levels.
The Pentagon has conceded that not all of the plutonium involved in the
crash was recovered -- about one pound of plutonium escaped into the
environment -- but has always contended that every one of the bombs on
board was accounted for.
K.L. Capozza is an investigative fellow with the Center for Investigative
US, Russia likely to reach agreement on missile defense: report
WASHINGTON (AFP) Nov 01, 2001
Moscow and Washington are likely to reach an agreement that would allow
testing for a missile defense system and cut strategic nuclear warheads by
two-thirds but not scrap the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM), The
Washington Post said Thursday.
The deal would likely emerge during the four-day
summit beginning November 13 between presidents
George W. Bush and Vladimir Putin, US officials told
The agreement would allow the United States to begin
extensive testing and development of its proposed
missile defense system, leaving a decision on whether
to withdraw from the ABM Treaty for a later date.
"Testing will go on, but there will be no announcement
of a US withdrawal from the ABM Treaty," one official
said. "That would be associated with a decision to
deploy a system which will come later."
US Secretary of State Colin Powell and Russian
Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov will meet here Thursday to
prepare the summit and discuss ways to defuse a
potential conflict over US plans to develop a national
missile defense system that would violate the ABM
The Bush administration has threatened to withdraw
from the treaty if the two sides fail to find an
Under the interim agreement reached by both sides,
the Post said, Russia and the United States would also
set goals for gradually reducing the number of strategic
warheads to between 1,750 and 2,250 each, from the
more than 6,000 that they now have on land, on
submarines and on long-range bombers.
The proposed reductions would shrink warhead levels
to below both those set by the 1993 Start II treaty
(3,000 to 3,500) as well as those proposed for the
START III pace reached in 1997 by Bush and Putin's
predecessors, presidents Bill Clinton and Boris Yeltsin.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
OCTOBER 29, 2001
CONTACT: Union of Concerned Scientists
Stephen Young (202) 223-6133
Paul Fain (202) 223-6133
Postponement of Missile Defense System Tests is Disingenuous
Testing Program Not Currently Limited by ABM Treaty
WASHINGTON - October 29 - The Pentagon's recent announcement that it has
postponed three missile defense "tracking tests" because they could violate
the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty is intended to bolster the Bush
administration claim that the Treaty -- rather than technology -- is
preventing the US from developing an effective defense against long-range
missiles. But the postponement is disingenuous because none of these tests
would address any of the numerous critical technical issues facing the
development of a national missile defense system against long-range
missiles. Separate Bush administration plans to begin deploying five
interceptors in Alaska next spring in violation of the ABM Treaty also have
no useful purpose.
"The Bush administration is trying to invent reasons to force a withdrawal
from the ABM Treaty, and seems to be looking hard for a test that the
Pentagon is technically capable of conducting that would violate the
treaty," said Dr. Lisbeth Gronlund, a physicist and UCS Senior Staff
Scientist. "In fact, the US could conduct a vigorous test program without
withdrawing from the ABM Treaty for several years."
The tests the Pentagon says it is postponing are three "tracking tests" in
which an Aegis ship-based radar would track a long-range ballistic missile.
The Aegis radar is currently part of the air defense system intended to
protect the ship from attacks by aircraft, and will also be used as part of
the Navy Area theater missile defense currently under development for use
against short-range missiles.
Two of the tracking tests were to take place during the next long-range
intercept test originally scheduled for October 24. According to the
Ballistic Missile Defense Organization, that intercept test has been
postponed for technical reasons, and should take place in late November.
The intercept tests the Pentagon has been conducting -- in which an
interceptor missile fired from Kwajalein Atoll in the Pacific attempts to
intercept a mock warhead released by a missile launched from Vandenberg,
California -- are not prohibited by the ABM Treaty. However, to prevent its
signatories from giving air defense or theater missile defense systems the
capability to also intercept long-range missiles, the ABM Treaty prohibits
radars like the one on Aegis ships to observe long-range missiles during
intercept tests. Thus, the tracking tests -- in which the Aegis radar was
scheduled to track both the target missile and the interceptor missile
during the intercept test -- would violate the treaty.
"These tests would not address any of the fundamental and challenging
questions about the technical feasibility of either a mid-course or a
boost-phase defense against long-range missiles," said Dr. David Wright, a
physicist and UCS Senior Staff Scientist. "There is no compelling technical
reason to conduct these tracking tests now."
The United States and Russia are reportedly discussing modifications to the
ABM Treaty that might allow some Bush administration testing plans to go
ahead while remaining in the treaty. However, the five interceptors the
Bush administration plans to begin deploying in Alaska next spring would
also serve no purpose for testing the system and would offer no useful
defense against a missile attack.
"The deployment of five interceptor missiles in Alaska as part of an
untested and unworkable rudimentary missile defense system would be an
unambiguous, pointless violation of the ABM Treaty," said Stephen Young,
UCS Senior Analyst.
October 27, 2001
THE WORLD & NATION
Military Sees Win-Win in Alaska
Missiles: U.S. outpost may reclaim its strategic position, with wide open skies and a realistic position for launches.
Kim Murphy, LA Times staff writer.
KODIAK, Alaska -- The brushy headlands of Narrow Cape are spectacular.
They back up to the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge, home of the biggest bears in the world. Offshore, hundreds of gray whales a day make their way along an ancient ocean migration corridor. Down below, Fossil Beach offers--for those warmblooded enough to attempt it--the best surfing in Alaska.
And there is this odd fact: A rocket launched from Narrow Cape's far northern latitude can enter a polar orbit with amazing ease--with the vast, empty expanse of the North Pacific available as a trajectory field for rocket debris. To military minds, the implications are dramatic. No longer do you have to launch a test missile from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California out toward the Marshall Islands and pretend it's an enemy missile. Fired from Kodiak down the West Coast, a missile looks just like a warhead dispatched from North Korea or China.
Almost by geographical default, Alaska is emerging as the first line of defense against the threat of an enemy nation--or a terrorist group with access to a missile launch facility--firing off a missile in northern Asia toward the U.S.
No other locale, defense officials say, can so realistically replicate an enemy attack, and none offers the hope of launching a defense interceptor missile capable of protecting not only the continental U.S., but Alaska and Hawaii as well.
With the Pentagon announcing this week that it would delay ship-based missile defense test launches to avoid conflicts with Russia over the Antiballistic Missile Treaty, administration officials said Friday that they are proceeding "on schedule" with plans to develop a mid-course missile defense test range in the North Pacific, centered in Alaska.
"The impact [of the delay] on Alaska will be none," said Lt. Col. Rick Lehner, spokesman for the Pentagon's Ballistic Missile Defense Organization.
In Anchorage, state missile defense coordinator Chris Nelson said the state has been advised that Congress has authorized full funding to commence development of a missile test range in Alaska. "We haven't gotten any red flags, so our assumption is we're moving forward," Nelson said.
The missile defense testing program represents a new military foray into a state that had all but lost its position as a strategic front in the Cold War. Over the last few months, such places as Kodiak and Delta Junction--a remote highway crossroads near the abandoned Army base of Ft. Greely--have become hubs of military activity.
Rocket scientists from NASA, the Air Force and the Army have become some of the most frequent passengers at the World War II-era landing strip on Kodiak. At Ft. Greely, bulldozers have moved in to clear trees for construction of five interceptor missile test silos.
Lt. Gen. Joseph Cosumano, commanding general of the U.S. Army's space and missile defense command, recently toured the site and met with top Alaska state officials.
With Congress poised to approve about $8 billion for the development of missile defense technology, the Bush administration says Kodiak and Ft. Greely, together with an expanded radar tracking system in Alaska's Aleutian Islands, are ideal centers for a new mid-course test range in the North Pacific.
The prospect has environmental groups across the state worried about the potential of rocket fuel poisoning marine wildlife, on threats to migrating whales and the cumulative effects of decades of hazardous military waste in Alaska. But in a state whose budget has always been hostage to the ups and downs of oil, fishing and timber, the proposal has most Alaska officials dreaming of a place at the high-tech table.
"The Alaska economy is a resource extraction economy. We pump oil and we ship it outside, we catch fish and we cut trees, and we ship them outside," said Nelson. "The high-tech economy that's been developing in other parts of the U.S. has really passed Alaska by, and we're hoping missile defense will bring some of these companies up."
Delta Junction, a virtual ghost town since Ft. Greely began closing in 1995, is celebrating. There is less enthusiasm in Kodiak, which already has a robust fishing industry, a strong tourism economy--and a growing suspicion of the rocket scientists setting up shop on Narrow Cape at a 3-year-old, state-owned commercial rocket launch facility that the Pentagon hopes to use.
A coalition of environmental groups has filed suit demanding new environmental studies before work on the missile defense program gets underway in Alaska. The government initially found there would be "no significant impact" on the environment from occasional launches at the Kodiak facility. But that never presumed, opponents say, that Kodiak would become a missile test range. No one looked in detail at potential effects on marine wildlife such as migrating whales, they say, nor at safety threats posed by an earthquake fault that runs just off Narrow Cape.
"We've already nearly lost our fishing industry due to [endangered] sea lion issues, and now you're going to send rockets and missiles over their habitat?" Vikki Jo Kennedy asked Pentagon officials at an anxious public meeting in August. "It just ain't going to work, boys. You gotta take this somewhere else."
In fact, work has quietly been underway for several years to capitalize on Kodiak's strategic location for testing missile trajectories.
The Air Force has launched several suborbital missiles from Kodiak down the West Coast, designed to test radar by simulating incoming enemy ballistic missiles. The Army hopes soon to launch what is to be the first of many test target missiles from Kodiak.
Last month, the rocket facility launched its first non-military mission and its first fully orbital satellite, a NASA payload that included, in addition to defense satellites, an amateur radio communications vehicle and a mirror-shrouded satellite, constructed as an international science experiment with help from students around the world.
Missile opponents believe that Kodiak's strategic location for military applications must have been clear from the beginning to Pat Ladner, former director of test operations in the Strategic Defense Initiative Office. Ladner was hired as executive director of Alaska Aerospace Development Corp. in 1992 to win funding and oversee construction of the Kodiak complex, which was to become the nation's first commercial rocket launch facility not located on a military base.
The original idea, Ladner insists, was to capitalize on what was expected to be a burgeoning commercial satellite market by building a facility that would allow telecommunications companies to get their spacecraft quickly and cheaply into polar and elliptical orbits.
"With the commercial satellite market going down the tubes, what are we going to do, just sit here and do nothing?" Ladner asked. "The Air Force's $20 looks just like Motorola's $20."
The Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon lent new urgency to the issue. Setting aside qualms that expanding missile defense would violate international disarmament treaties, administration officials say it is more important than ever to put into place such a defense system.
"As terrible as the damage was from an airliner that was hijacked and aimed at a building, magnify that a hundred times or more if it was a nuclear warhead that hit New York City," said Lehner of the Pentagon.
Driving out to the 3,100-acre launch complex in Kodiak is a slow affair, 40 miles of washboard gravel road through emerald hills, up switchbacks that overlook pristine coves, finally emptying out on a bluff-top of rolling tundra and scattered spruce trees at a small complex of launch towers and tall assembly buildings.
Ed Allen, a former vice president at the commercial satellite business Orbital Sciences Co., was hired as Alaska Aerospace's technical director. He presides over a sophisticated network of computer terminals, fiber-optic communication links and a launch control center that resembles the Johnson Space Center in Houston.
He gets impatient when Kodiak residents talk of potential hazards. Before launching, he said, engineers calculate the probability of anyone being hit by debris. In every case, he said, there is no launch unless that probability is less than 1 in 1 billion.
"These people say, 'Oh, my God. They're flying over our communities. . . . First of all, one of the reasons we picked Kodiak is there are 15,000 people on this whole island and half of them are in Kodiak city, 40 miles away," Allen said. "I've been working in the rocket business since 1956. I can very truthfully say that in all these years, the people I've known that have been killed have died in two ways: bar fights and automobile accidents."
The public meeting in Kodiak in August was an eye-opener for missile defense officials, who had expected some opposition but probably not the four hours of vehemence that greeted them.
Native Alaskans raised fears that poisonous exhausts could damage sea life and threaten two native communities that are downrange of rocket launches on some trajectories.
"The military has traditionally viewed Alaska as a remote, unpopulated, vast wasteland where they can test and experiment without environmental concerns or worrying about lots of populated areas," said Stacey Fritz of No Nukes North, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit.
Delta Junction, however, has been almost unanimous in its enthusiasm. A $9-million contract awarded for ground clearing at Ft. Greely in August renewed hopes that the town could eventually hire back teachers, build a new bowling alley and a pool.
Thursday, October 25, 2001
Pentagon Puts Off Missile Testing
By ROBERT BURNS, AP Military Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) - The Bush administration is putting off three missile
tests that might have violated a 1972 treaty banning nationwide missile
defenses, Pentagon officials said Thursday.
The announcement by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld marked the first
time the administration has allowed concerns about the Anti-Ballistic
Missile treaty to slow its missile defense project.
The administration may yet withdraw from the treaty, but Thursday's
announcement gives President Bushroom to maneuver during his talks with
Russian President Vladimir Putin in Washington and at Bush's Texas ranch in
The president will have demonstrated in advance that the administration is
not going to engage in missile defense testing of questionable legality
until the future of the ABM treaty is decided.
Bush has said repeatedly that the United States needs an effective defense
against long-range ballistic missiles and that the ABM treaty must not be
allowed to stand in the way. Administration officials have said the Sept.
11 terrorist attacks, while not involving missiles, show the nation is
vulnerable to unconventional surprise attack and one day this could come
Rumsfeld told a Pentagon news conference that the delays would allow more
time for the administration to strike a deal with Russia on moving beyond
the ABM treaty. Bush has said that unless he gets an arrangement with
Russia that accommodates his missile defense program, the United States
will withdraw from the treaty, which it is permitted to do with six months'
Vocal supporters of missile defense have urged the administration to
declare the treaty invalid - since one of its two original signatories, the
Soviet Union, no longer exists - and move ahead with unlimited testing.
Henry Cooper, who shares that view, said Thursday he was disappointed by
``It shows that we in fact are constraining our program out of concern for
the treaty,'' he said. Cooper was director of the Pentagon's missile
defense office during Bush's father's administration.
Rumsfeld and other administration officials had said earlier this year
that at some point the Pentagon's missile defense program would ``bump up
against,'' or come in conflict with, the ABM treaty.
``That has now happened,'' Rumsfeld said.
Rumsfeld did not say whether he agreed that the three delayed tests would
have actually violated the treaty. He has often said the treaty itself is
an irrelevant relic of the Cold War and must be discarded. Nonetheless, he
said, now is not the time to invite accusations of treaty violations.
``I do not want to put the United States in a position of having someone
raise a question about whether or not something is a violation of a
treaty,'' he said. ``I don't think that's the position the United States
wants to be in.''
Rumsfeld made clear he believes the United States cannot afford to put off
building a missile defense system.
``The one thing that's clear is that the United States cannot stay bound
to the constraints of that treaty and still do what we've indicated we
believe very sincerely we must do, and that is to develop effective
ballistic missile defenses,'' he said.
Air Force Lt. Col. Rick Lehner, a spokesman for the Pentagon's Ballistic
Missile Defense Organization, said in a telephone interview that it was
determined by administration lawyers who study ABM compliance issues that
the three planned tests could be interpreted as treaty violations.
Two of the three delayed activities - involving the use tracking radars -
would not have occurred as scheduled anyway because they were to be
performed in conjunction with a missile intercept test that has been
rescheduled for unrelated reasons, the official said.
The intercept test, in which a missile interceptor is fired from a U.S.
test range in the central Pacific Ocean to chase down an
intercontinental-range missile carrying a mock nuclear warhead, was to have
been held Oct. 24. Lehner said the Pentagon has rescheduled the intercept
test for either late November or early December to provide more time for
testing the interceptor.
In conjunction with the October intercept test, an Aegis radar aboard a
U.S. Navy ship was to have tracked the target missile launched from
Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. The Aegis radar also was to have tracked
Also as part of the test, a radar at Vandenberg was to have tracked the
Additionally, an Aegis radar was to have tracked a Titan II missile
scheduled to launch a satellite into space Nov. 14.
Each of those tracking radar activities has been put off indefinitely,
The ABM treaty prohibits the use of sea-based, mobile or space-based radar
to track ballistic missiles as part of a missile defense system.
Alaska Antimissile Site: Too Close For Russians' Comfort?New York Times - September 26, 2001 - By James Dao
FORT GREELY, Alaska In a patch of firescorched forest in central Alaska,
under the shadow of towering peaks, construction crews have been carving
the outlines of a 135acre missile field at an Army base here, 100 miles
south of Fairbanks. They are laying the foundations for a rudimentary
missile defense site.
But as those crews rush to beat winter's subzero temperatures and pounding
snows, their work may complicate the Bush administration's efforts to keep
Russia in an international coalition to fight terrorism in the aftermath of
the attacks on New York and Washington.
The Pentagon plans to build a command center and five silos at Fort Greely
for launching rockets that could demolish enemy missiles high above the earth.
Though the site would initially be used for antimissile testing, the
Pentagon has said it might declare Fort Greely a working national missile
defense site as early as 2004.
More immediately, the construction holds the potential to become an
irritant in the cooperation between Washington and Moscow to combat
terrorism that has already seen Russia open several doors to an American
presence in central Asia.
Russian officials have said they would view the construction of missile
silos at Fort Greely as a violation of the Antiballistic Missile Treaty,
signed in 1972 by the United States and the Soviet Union to prohibit
national missile defense systems. Moscow considers the treaty the
cornerstone of current arms control policy.
For that reason, any moves by the United States to withdraw from the pact
which the Bush administration might have to decide in two or three months
could undermine the administration's efforts to maintain Russian help in
the war on terrorism, experts said.
The United States has won Russia's support for using its airspace for
relief missions and gained backing for the possible basing of American
troops or jets in the former Soviet republics of Uzbekistan and Tajikistan
on the Afghan border.
"If we move ahead to do something the Russians very clearly object to, it
cannot help but impact their attitude on our requests," said Lee Hamilton,
the former Democratic congressman who is director of the Woodrow Wilson
International Center for Scholars in Washington. "They will be less
supportive, less enthusiastic."
But some experts contend that if the administration succeeds in forging
close ties with Russia in fighting terrorism, it may smooth the way to
winning Moscow's endorsement for missile defenses later.
"The Russians themselves will have to worry about terrorism, perhaps
terrorism involving longrange ballistic missiles," said Stephen P. Rosen,
director of the Olin Institute for Strategic Studies at Harvard.
Outside the Army base here, a coalition of antinuclear, antiwar, church and
environmental groups has demonstrated from time to time against the
project. On Kodiak Island, hundreds of miles south, concerns have been
voiced about disruptions to the fishing industry. "The fishermen are
furious about this," said Vikki Jo Kennedy, a local tour guide in Kodiak.
But in Fort Greely itself, people see the construction as a boon to the
Since hijackers attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the Bush
administration has not backed away from its missile shield program, which
calls for beginning silo construction in the spring of 2002. The
administration has held to its position even though such a shield would
have done nothing to prevent the two attacks.
Indeed, some officials have gone as far as to suggest that the attacks
prove the extraordinary lengths to which terrorists will go to harm the
United States. Clearly, if terrorists obtain the technology to launch a
missile attack they will not hesitate to use it, those officials contend.
It appears that there are divisions within the administration, pitting
State Department officials against the Pentagon, over how quickly to move
ahead with missile defense and whether Washington should avoid antagonizing
the Russians now.
"There's a group in the State Department who believe Russian support and
participation in what's coming is absolutely critical," said a person
familiar with some of those discussions. "If we abrogate the ABM," which
might be done as early as November or December, "it will be extremely
difficult to work with them."
Pentagon officials say they will put Fort Greely into operation only if the
threat of a missile attack seems imminent, and only if the system is ready
for use. Even an imperfect system would be better than nothing if an enemy
threatens the nation with nuclear missiles, they argue.
Though opposition to missile defense remains strong among arms control
advocates, the recent attacks have muted Congressional critics. Last week,
Senate Democrats withdrew measures to cut the administration's missile
defense budget by $1.3 billion and to place restrictions on any spending
that might violate the ABM treaty.
Under the treaty, Washington would be required to notify Moscow of its
intention to withdraw from the pact six months in advance this November
or December if the Pentagon is to begin silo work next spring.
As the clock ticks, the question in Washington has remained: is Fort Greely
really for testing, or a veiled project to build a working missile shield?
Administration officials argue that Fort Greely will be part of a new range
in which testrocket trajectories will simulate those of missiles fired from
Asia more realistically than earlier tests, something even Democrats have
But in a paper published in Arms Control Today, the Union of Concerned
Scientists argues that much of the work planned for Alaska has little
testing value. It might make sense, though, as part of a working missile
defense system, the authors argue.
For example, the Pentagon wants to upgrade a Cobra Dane early warning radar
on Shemya Island in the Aleutians for tracking test missiles. But the radar
points northwest toward the Kamchatka Peninsula, where the Russians once
conducted missile tests.
The radar unit cannot rotate and therefore cannot track missiles coming
from California or Kwajalein Atoll in the Pacific, where the military is
likely to launch most of its test rockets. But it could be used to track
missiles fired toward the United States from North Korea, the report says.
The report also questions why silos need to be built at Fort Greely at all.
The Pentagon has no plans to launch test rockets from the base, because it
is close to populated areas. Instead, test missiles will be fired from a
stateowned site on Kodiak Island off the Alaskan coast.
"It becomes more and more clear that there is no justification for having
Fort Greely as part of a test program," said Lisbeth Gronlund, senior staff
scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists.
Pentagon officials dispute that. Test missiles would be stored at Fort
Greely, allowing crews to practice maintenance procedures and testers to
check whether rocket fuel deteriorates in Arctic temperatures. The
officials also say the Cobra Dane radar could be used to track test
missiles fired from aircraft over the Bering Sea.
The debate has only recently begun to touch Alaska itself. Many residents
of Kodiak Island are worried that test launchings will disrupt fishing, the
island's major industry. But in Delta Junction, outside Fort Greely, many
of the 3,500 residents have welcomed the plan.
The town has been reeling since the Army closed most base operations after
1995, and silo construction could pump $400 million into the local economy
over five years.
"I'd say about 99.9 percent of the people in Delta Junction support it,"
said the mayor, Roy Gilbertson, who owns a building supply company.
Reuters | AP | ABCNEWS.com
Monday September 17 6:49 PM ET
Dems to Drop Missile Defense Provision
By CAROLYN SKORNECK, Associated Press Writer WASHINGTON (AP) -
Looking to quickly approve new defense spending after last week's twin terror attacks, Senate Democrats are setting aside their effort to block money for any missile defense activity that would violate a 1972 arms control treaty. Republicans had vehemently opposed the provision, saying it tied President Bush (news - web sites)'s hands. It had been expected to trigger a fight on the Senate floor as lawmakers considered the $343 billion defense authorization bill for the year that begins Oct. 1. Both parties are eager to approve the defense bill. So Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, in consultation with Senate Armed Services Committee (news - web sites) Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., decided to postpone any consideration of missile defense money until later. ``There will be an appropriate time to bring this up for debate, but this week is not the appropriate time,'' Daschle's spokeswoman, Anita Dunn, said Monday. The version of the bill approved by the Republican-led House Armed Services Committee in July contains no such provision. In the House, meanwhile, a key Republican is pressing to boost defense spending next year to about $384 billion in light of last week's terrorist attacks, up more than $40 billion over the amounts approved by the House and Senate Armed Services Committees. Rep. Duncan Hunter (news - bio - voting record), R-Calif., said some of the money could come from the $40 billion approved by Congress last week to respond to the terrorist attacks. The $384 billion for defense work by the Defense and Energy departments would represent a $73 billion increase over this year's spending level, up by nearly one-quarter. Hunter, R-Calif., chairman of the House committee's research and development panel, said that along with including $34 billion to cover unfunded needs of the Pentagon (news - web sites) - something the committee's top Democrat, Rep. Ike Skelton (news - bio - voting record) of Missouri, approves - it also would add $2 billion to the $8.2 billion the committee had approved for missile defense. Two committee Democrats said after a closed-door briefing Friday on the attacks that they predicted the final bill would place a greater emphasis on short- and theater-range missile defenses. Rep. Neil Abercrombie (news - bio - voting record), D-Hawaii, said an emphasis on short- and medium-range missile defense systems could come at the expense of national missile defense that would guard against intercontinental ballistic missiles. But Hunter said he would fight any such move. ``It's totally illogical for any member of Congress to say that since we were just attacked by terrorist-commandeered aircraft, we shouldn't be building defenses against the long-range missiles that North Korea (news - web sites), Iraq and others are developing,'' he said. ``That's akin to saying we were just hit on the right flank, so let's not protect the left flank.'' Hunter conceded he did not yet have the support of committee Chairman Bob Stump, R-Ariz., the House GOP leadership or the White House. The proposal also would add $1.4 billion to build more Tomahawk cruise missiles and other precision munitions, and could include several billion for improved radar capabilities. Skelton, reached by phone at his office in Blue Springs, Mo., said he had not been told about the proposal but he ``absolutely'' favors the overall increase. He was, after all, the one who elicited the list of $34 billion unfunded needs from the service chief. But he said he wants to see the details: ``I want to make sure it's spent correctly.''
"In Anti-missile Test, Target Signaled Its Location"
Defense Week - July 30, 2001 - by John M. Donnelly
In this month's high-profile anti-ICBM test, a prototype interceptor was
able to find a target warhead partly because the target signaled its
location to the interceptor for much of the flight, and the transmissions
formed the basis of the targeting orders, according to officials and
The presence of the beacon, or "C-band transponder," on the target warhead
didn't guarantee that the interceptor would find and kill the target in the
July 14 test of President Bush's proposed missile shield. But the
target-location data gave the interceptor rocket a precise point in space
at which to aim and made its job much easier than would be the case if it
had relied on a ground radar's natural receptors, a Pentagon official
confirmed. What's more, a decoy that flew in the exercise to test the
interceptor's ability to distinguish a fake warhead from a real one had no
such beacon on it.
The transponder's use in earlier tests was brought up at a couple of press
briefings and congressional hearings last year. But it has received little
attention. In particular, its vital targeting role in the tests, including
this month's internationally controversial one, has not previously been
disclosed. It raises new questions about the realism of the exercises. Yet
the Pentagon will use the beacon for the foreseeable future.
In a candid interview, the missile-defense program's technical director,
Keith Englander, for the first time confirmed that the transponder data was
used to generate the "weapons task plan," the targeting program for the
booster that lifted the kill vehicle. He stressed, though, that the hardest
work was done by other sensors, including those on the kill vehicle itself.
Englander said the transponder had to be used because existing Pacific
radars are located in less than ideal places for testing. The program's
spokesman, Air Force Lt. Col. Richard Lehner, also downplayed the role of
the transponder. He added that its use is one of several aspects of current
testing the Pentagon plans eventually to dispense with.
"What it points to is the need for an expanded test infrastructure, too, so
we can make these tests more operationally realistic ... using the type of
sensors we need," Lehner said.
However, Englander said that the administration has not requested funding
to build a new X-band radar that would obviate the need for the beacon-even
though the White House has asked for $800 million to start building a
missile-defense "test bed" in Alaska that could become an operational
defense as soon as 2004.
Notwithstanding the use of the beacon, in the final seconds of the July 14
test, the kill vehicle ultimately found and destroyed the mock enemy
warhead without outside help by using its own infrared seeker and steering
mechanism, experts agree.
However, they also agree that the interceptor was able to get to the
end-game only because the target transmitted its location during critical
minutes of the flight to an FPQ-14 C-band radar on Oahu, Hawaii, and from
there to the battle-management system in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Significantly, the C-band beacon's transmission then generated the computer
program that tells the interceptor when and where to aim in space.
The July 14 test boosted President Bush's hopes of deploying a missile
shield for the United States. That night, a target missile took off from
Vandenberg AFB, Calif., while, 4,800 miles away, a rocket carrying the kill
vehicle launched from Kwajalein Atoll in the Pacific's Marshall Islands.
The kill vehicle found and obliterated the target 144 miles above the
ocean, the second intercept in four attempts. The beacon and a set of
Global Positioning System, or GPS, instruments were used in previous tests
as well as this one, officials said. The GPS equipment was only used in a
backup mode on July 14.
The beacon was never mentioned, or included in briefing documents, in a
detailed preview of the flight test given to reporters the day before this
month's exercise by Ballistic Missile Defense Organization Director Air
Force Lt. Gen. Ronald Kadish. Last summer, though, top officials and the
Pentagon spokesman described the beacon as mainly a range-safety and
On July 6, 2000, Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. Craig Quigley told reporters
the beacon "provides no information to the [kill vehicle] as it navigates
its way to the target." On June 20, 2000, Kadish told the press that "the
beacon does not help the kill vehicle in the acquisition phase of that
The same month, Kadish told a Senate panel, in reference to the C-band
transponder and GPS instruments: "None-I repeat, none-of this equipment in
any way aids the kill vehicle in finding, discriminating or intercepting
the target during the final stages of the flight test."
'Here I am'
Philip Coyle, who until earlier this year oversaw testing of the
missile-shield system and other major military programs, said in an
interview that Kadish's words were true in a strict sense. The key terms,
however, Coyle said, are "final stages."
Prior to the end-game, in the "mid-course" of flight, Coyle said, "the
C-band beacon does aid the kill vehicle in finding, discriminating, and
intercepting the target." Use of the beacon, he said, "is how they know
where [the target warhead] is ... and to go after that object rather than
other objects that in the mid-course you wouldn't want to go after by
mistake," such as the bus, decoy or debris.
The beacon on the target "does provide discrimination in the mid-course,
because that's the only object being tracked," said Coyle, now a consultant
with the Center for Defense Information, a research group that is often
critical of military spending.
"There is absolutely nothing wrong with [using the beacon] this early in
the program," Coyle added. "It's just one of many things that have to be
changed so the flights can be more realistic in the future." Coyle compared
the beacon's role in the tests to looking in the dark with a flashlight for
someone who has his own pencil flashlight showing you where to look.
"Perhaps the most unrealistic part of the C-band beacon is the fact that it
is an active beacon-as opposed to simply being something passive that is
seen by a radar," he said. "What's different is that it's ... like a pinger
saying, 'Here I am.' "
'Weapons task plan'
By contrast to official desciptions of the beacon's role, an August 2000
"for official use only" report by Coyle's office on the strategic-defense
testing program said the transponder generates the targeting plan. Although
that plan is clarified based on other data, the intercept aim-point is
derived directly from information fed from the target beacon to ground
computers, said Coyle in the interview and in his report.
The beacon and, in earlier tests, the GPS instruments are "the sources of
information for weapons task planning," the report said.
The document says the weapons task plan created by the beacon's data
comprises "pre-launch instructions that are used by the weapon system for
generating a flyout solution that places the EKV [exoatmospheric kill
vehicle] on an intercept path with the target RV [re-entry vehicle]."
The beacon or GPS instrument must be used for this weapons plan, the report
said, because a ground-based prototype X-band radar on Kwajalein "alone is
not capable of supporting the weapon task plan generation, since the target
RV cannot be discriminated early enough."
"Use of the FPQ-14 range radar as the source of weapon task plan data needs
to be phased out," the report said in a recommendation under the category
of "Testing Artificiality."
Not a 'dead-on shot'
Englander, the program's technical director, acknowledged that the target's
transponder generated the weapons task plan and gave the interceptor a box
in space (of unspecified size) at which to aim. But subsequently in the
test, he said, the Kwajalein radar gave the interceptor three "in flight
target updates" on the missile's flight trajectory that refined the box to
half the original size, and then the kill vehicle did the rest, firing its
divert thrusters 28 times to do so.
"It wasn't a dead-on shot from the weapons task plan," he said.
The transponder, he said, "points to the segment in the sky that the target
complex should end up in once the EKV [exoatmospheric kill vehicle] gets up
there." However, he said, "The majority of [the data] we're getting to put
the EKV [there] is the refined track you get from the GBR-P [ground based
radar prototype on Kwajalein] and what the EKV does on its own."
The whole exercise lasted a half an hour. The battle-management system used
data from about seven minutes worth of transponder transmissions followed
by about eight minutes of data from the Kwajalein radar, he disclosed.
By contrast, a depiction of the test "geometry" in Coyle's report (see page
14) shows the beacon working overtime, transmitting data for 23 minutes of
the 30-minute flight. Englander said the graphic is "generic."
Englander also rejected any suggestion that using the beacon on the
target-but not on the decoy-rigged the test. He said the transponder only
sent data on the location of the entire target "cluster"-the combination of
warhead, decoy and bus-and didn't need to make any distinctions at the
early point in the flight when the beacon was responsible for tracking.
Coyle, though, said that in a real-world setting, an early-warning radar
would pick up all the objects and would have to sort among them.
The existing radars are not sufficiently realistic for testing because an
upgraded early-warning model at Beale AFB, near Sacramento, Calif., is too
close to the target launch-point of Vandenberg AFB, near Los Angeles. The
Kwajalein radar is too close to the interceptor launch-point to obtain
targeting data-except for late in the flight.
Moreover, the FPQ-14 radar on Oahu is just not strong enough to do the job
without getting data beamed straight from the target, officials said.
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Democrats Voice New Concerns About Alaska Missile Site
WASHINGTON U.S. Reps. John Spratt, Ike Skelton, and Norm Dicks signed the following letter to Lt. Gen. Ronald Kadish, director of the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization.
July 27, 2001
Dear General Kadish:
We are enclosing a letter sent to Secretary Rumsfeld on July 13, 2001, and referred to you
for response. We want to elaborate our concerns over the departments plans to initiate
construction at Fort Greely next month.
Given the treaty implications of building silos at Fort Greely and the constitutional role of
Congress in appropriating money, we believe the Department of Defense should not start
construction activities at Fort Greely in fiscal year (FY) 2001. Since our earlier letter, we have
been informed by staff that the department plans to use FY 2001 military construction funding for
initial construction at Fort Greely. We do not believe that it is proper to use these funds for this
purpose. We believe that any plan to initiate construction of five silos at Fort Greely should be
carefully weighed by Congress and authorized as part of the fiscal year 2002 process before any
construction activities begin.
The FY 2002 budget justification materials describing the Fort Greely project state that it
is part of a test bed for missile defense. The FY 2001 military construction appropriation was
for initial construction of national missile defense deployment facilities and not for construction of
test facilities. You informed the Senate Armed Services Committee on March 10, 2000, that the
$85.1 million request for national missile defense military construction funding for 2001 was to
construct the tactical and tactical-support facilities required to deploy the NMD system. In fact,
the Departments FY 2002 request for Fort Greely construction is included in the research,
development, test, and evaluation (RDT&E) account, and not the military construction account.
If the construction planned for Fort Greely is truly for testing, we believe that the FY 2001
military construction appropriation for deployment cannot be used. If, however, the construction
at Fort Greely is not primarily for a test facility, but for the deployment of an emergency
capability, then the question of legal authority becomes more ambiguous. When Congress appropriated military construction funding for the national missile defense (NMD) system, we
were acting in response to a request from the Clinton Administration. The emergency system
now proposed by the Bush Administration is materially different. We believe the differences are
significant enough that the department would be violating the spirit of the law (Section 2802, Title
X) if you were to use the FY 2001 funding for this different system, and very likely the letter of
the law as well. There is another more serious problem if construction at Fort Greely is primarily
for deployment, not testing. If this is the purpose, then your activities appear to be on a collision
course with the ABM Treaty. We understand the need for major modifications to the ABM Treaty,
but we believe that the Administration should try in earnest to negotiate these changes Russia
before rushing to deployment.
We question the haste when there is so little to gain. Only five interceptors are to be
deployed at Fort Greely. The kinetic kill vehicle is still in early stages of testing and far from being
proven, and its configuration will almost certainly change before a production design is chosen.
The kill vehicle will be mounted on a relatively slow test booster rather than the objective booster;
and it will not have the benefit of an X-band radar for tracking and closing on incoming targets.
To have any confidence in such a sub-par system, one would want to test-fire a few missiles from
their silos in the permafrost at Fort Greely, but missiles are unlikely to be test-fired from Fort
Greely because the booster stages would fall on populated areas. Given these facts, we simply do
not think the department has made the case for deployment.
There seems also to be a question of whether the department has met the requirements of
the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA), 42 U.S.C. Sections 4321, 4331-4335, 4341-
4347. It is our understanding that the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) prepared by the
Clinton Administration for constructing missile interceptor silos at Fort Greely applied only to
deployment, and did not address the impact of a test facility. If Fort Greely is primarily a test
facility, the NEPA requirements seem not to have been met, and at a minimum, the EIS must be
amended. If the project at Fort Greely is intended primarily for deployment of an emergency
capability, the department may have met NEPA requirements, but it has also raised more serious
concerns about imminent violation of the ABM Treaty.
There are further concerns as to whether the other parts of the test bed will be comply
with NEPA. It is our understanding that the construction of two test silos on Kodiak Island was
not included in the Environmental Assessment (EA) completed for the commercial launch facility
at Kodiak. We are advised that NEPA probably requires an EIS for live-fire intercept testing at
Kodiak Island, not just an EA.
As we stated in our letter to Secretary Rumsfeld, we raise these questions and concerns as
constructive critics. We support your efforts to provide for more realistic testing of our missile
defense systems. We do not, however, support the by-pass of longstanding environmental laws or
the use of funds authorized and appropriated for different purposes.
We look forward to working with you throughout the authorization and appropriations
process, but urge you to not begin construction at Fort Greely until these concerns have been
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Moscow denies missile shield U-turn
Find this article at:
MOSCOW, Russia -- Russia has denied it has been persuaded to re-examine its
position on the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty -- despite U.S. hints to the
U.S. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice was in Moscow this week
presenting President George W. Bush's arguments to alter the treaty to allow
Washington to build a new anti-missile shield.
Rice said after meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin that the two sides
were now discussing "how you move forward, not if you move forward."
Russia has said the treaty is the cornerstone of arms control and needs to
be preserved. Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Yakovenko said on Friday
that Moscow had no intention of dropping its opposition to U.S. missile
Asked if Moscow had changed its position on the treaty, he said: "These
suggestions are absolutely untrue."
Yakovenko said in an interview with RTR state television that during talks
with Rice, "we did not hear any new arguments or new elements that would
make us depart from the 1972 ABM treaty."
Russian officials say abandoning that agreement would destroy the
foundations of global security, leading to a new arms race.
But Bush's administration contends the treaty has outlived its usefulness,
preventing the United States from developing defences against potential
nuclear threats from such nations as Iran and North Korea.
At their meeting in Genoa, Italy, earlier this week, Putin and Bush
unexpectedly announced that talks on missile defence would be linked to
talks on cutting strategic nuclear weapons.
Rice and Russian National Security Council chief Vladimir Rushailo said that
expert-level talks would begin in early August, and Rice said Bush and Putin
would have the first proposals before them when they meet in October.
But Rushailo said he expected a protracted negotiating process. Deputy
Russian Foreign Minister Georgy Mamedov said that while meeting Rice, Putin
repeated his proposal to cut nuclear warheads on both sides to 1,500. Rice,
however, said no specific numbers had been discussed.
U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said on Friday he was not surprised
that Russia continues to stand by the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty, but
Washington would keep trying to persuade Moscow to change it.
"If that's what the Foreign Ministry spokesman said it doesn't surprise me.
It has been their consistent position over time," Powell said.
"We are discussing with them the problems we have with that treaty with
respect to a new strategic framework and missile defence so I'm not
surprised by the statements," he added.
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US test site would breach missile treaty, says Russia
Sydney Morning Herald
Saturday, July 21, 2001
Available at http://www.smh.com.au/news/0107/21/world/world9.html
By Peter Baker in Moscow
Russia has warned the United States that it will consider the breaking of ground at a missile defence test site in Alaska as a breach of the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) treaty.
The Russians have drawn a hard line as the US tries to speed up development of a nuclear shield.
The rigid interpretation heralds a looming political confrontation between the world's two pre-eminent nuclear powers unless President George Bush and President Vladimir Putin compromise during their meeting this weekend in Genoa, Italy, or subsequent discussions.
The US announced last week that it planned to break ground in Alaska next month.
"The start of construction of the firing range ... will be the sign of a violation of the ABM treaty," Mr Igor Sergeyev, a Putin security adviser and former defence minister, said on Thursday.
He said later: "Pouring concrete is an irreversible operation which signals that there is no return. When concrete is poured into the strengthening metal frameworks of a silo it is already irrevocable."
If Mr Putin sticks to this view it could complicate Mr Bush's hopes of accelerating his missile defence program to have at least a basic system in place by 2005. The State Department recently notified embassies around the world that upcoming tests "will come into conflict with the ABM treaty in months, not years".
Precisely when that moment will arrive, however, has been a matter of debate. The 1972 ABM Treaty requires a six-month notification before it can be abrogated unless the two sides agree.
Opinions have varied widely about what constitutes an infringement of its provisions against testing a system for shooting down strategic missiles, but the US's European allies and congressional Democrats are likely to give great weight to Russia's stance.
Under the ABM treaty each side is permitted one missile defence site as long as it does not protect the entire territory of the country. For Russia it is in Moscow; for the US it is in Grand Forks, North Dakota.
When it comes to the planned test facility at Fort Greely, Alaska, this month's State Department memo said the treaty prohibits "construction of an ABM radar in Alaska".
But the Defence Secretary, Mr Donald Rumsfeld, has said the work at Fort Greely would not violate the ABM Treaty this year. And officials including the Secretary of State, Mr Colin Powell, have made it clear that they do not feel constrained by the need to come up with new treaty provisions if the Russians remain opposed to Mr Bush's plans.
Mr Sergeyev complained on Thursday that the US wanted to make itself the only true nuclear superpower at the expense of the deterrence doctrine of mutually assured destruction that governed Cold War policy for decades.
"To put it simply, the US is seeking to realise unilateral advantages that they have: 'I can destroy you but you cannot [destroy] me.'"
He said he had produced 30 different options for a Russian response if Washington proceeded without agreement from Moscow, but did not list them.
The Washington Post
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