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MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti political commentator Andrei Kislyakov)

The first, ground-based stage of the U.S. missile defense program has
successfully been completed. There is not much time left before the start
of a battle royal for the right to place missile defense components, i.e.
weapons, in space.
Fortunately, the success of the proponents of orbital duels is not
pre-determined. "We have repeatedly come up with initiatives aimed at
preventing the use of weapons in space," said Russian President Vladimir
Putin at the Munich Conference on Security Policy in mid-February. "Today I
would like to tell you that we have drafted an agreement on the prevention
of weapons deployment in space. Very soon it will be made into an official
proposal. Let us work on it together." Of course, there is little hope that
the Russian initiative will have a serious influence on the missile defense
program. Nevertheless, a barrier must be placed across weapons' path to
In discussing the danger of anti-missile efforts in their present form, let
us start with purely military problems. Does the U.S. system pose a threat
to Russia? The answer is unequivocal: it does not.
At present, the U.S. has two deployment areas for extraterrestrial kinetic
interceptors: 14 silo-based anti-missile units in Alaska and another two in
California. Soon another 10 may be deployed in Poland, with support
infrastructure in the form of a ground-based radar in the Czech Republic.
A prominent Russian military expert and former head of the Defense
Ministry's Space Research Institute, Major General Vladimir Dvorkin, says,
"the creation of one missile defense deployment area in the Czech Republic,
Poland and other eastern European countries and the deployment of a dozen
of anti-missile units in each does not pose any threat to the Russian
strategic containment potential. It would take hundreds of deployment areas
and thousands of anti-missile units to damage this potential."
Moreover, despite the impressive characteristics of the U.S. Ground-Based
Interceptor – an intercepting height of up to 1,500 km and a directed-fire
range of up to 4,000 km, it cannot guarantee the destruction of warheads in
the middle of the launch trajectory from Russian deployment sites, which is
very inconvenient for the Americans. At the same time, to destroy them at
the most convenient point, the beginning of the trajectory, the interceptor
must be located within 500 km of the target, which is also impossible
However, the first two stages of the interceptor are flesh of the flesh of
the second and third stages of the Minuteman II ICBM. So it will not take
much imagination to deploy Minuteman III’s, which have about the same
length and maximum diameter as the Minuteman II, instead of the announced
conventional antimissiles.
Yet there is a greater danger. Russian leaders have repeatedly said that
they will give an "asymmetrical," cheaper, but "extremely effective" answer
to the U.S. antimissile defense system. This answer was quite clear. In
mid-2006, Chief of the Russian General Staff Yuri Baluyevsky said, "We have
practically found adequate and asymmetrical methods that allow us to say:
the existing and prospective ABM will be successfully penetrated by our
intercontinental ballistic missiles and their warheads."
This launches a boundless program for the improvement of offensive nuclear
weapons. The response will be the appearance of the prospective ABM, this
time partially space-deployed.
The result will be a new battlefield with its own “front line” and
“fortifications.” Given that over 180 countries are involved in space
activities and at least 40 of them use information from orbit for some or
other defense purposes, it is hard to find an alternative to Putin's Munich
proposal and to argue with Vladimir Dvorkin, who said, "The proposed ban on
weapons deployment in space should be viewed as an invitation to develop
and adopt a countries' code of behavior in space. It could ban all actions
aimed at destroying space systems, including weapons deployment."

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