Who's under the NMD umbrella?

The NMD system to be deployed in 2005 is but a shadow of the so-called Star

Wars system envisioned by former president Ronald Reagan. That system was

expected to counter a massive nuclear strike from the former Soviet Union,

which Reagan dubbed "the evil empire." Nearly two decades later, however,

it is possible the U.S. and Russia will work together to build an NMD system.

The two countries agreed in mid-June to build a joint high-tech center

near Moscow, to be called the Joint Data Exchange Center, where both sides

can monitor the globe for ballistic missile launches. Russian president

Vladimir Putin has proposed the two countries work together on an NMD system

that would target incoming missiles while still over enemy territory, thereby

creating an "umbrella" over rogue nations such as Iran and Iraq.

One lawmaker is unabashedly supporting cooperation between the two former

enemies. "I think we're a lot closer to working with the Russians than many

suspect," said Rep. Curt Weldon (R-Penn.), chairman of the House Armed Services

committee. In recent meetings with Russian officials, Weldon said he has

learned the Russians are working on a new missile system known as the S-500.

"The Russian generals told me they had done all the mathematical calculations

and had done all of the initial preparations for building a brand new missile

defense system, the S-500. "When they said they couldn't afford to build

a system, I challenged them to let us help them with that system, to work

together, to do a joint program," Weldon said.

But Collina dismissed the idea. "[Weldon] is only one Congress member.

U.S. aid to Russia is not the most popular thing in Congress. If they can't

get the money to help Russia dismantle its nuclear weapons, they're not

likely to get money for a Russian missile defense system," Collina said.

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