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                                                        Calendar No. 16
106th Congress                                                   Report
                                 SENATE

 1st Session                                                      106-4
_______________________________________________________________________


 
                  NATIONAL MISSILE DEFENSE ACT OF 1999

                                _______
                                

               February 12, 1999.--Ordered to be printed

_______________________________________________________________________


    Mr. Warner, from the Committee on Armed Services, submitted the 
                               following

                              R E P O R T

                             together with

                             MINORITY VIEWS

                         [To accompany S. 257]

    The Committee on Armed Services, to which was referred the 
bill (S. 257) having considered the same, reports favorably 
thereon and recommends that the bill do pass.

                          PURPOSE OF THE BILL

    S. 257 would establish that it is the policy of the United 
States to deploy as soon as is technologically possible an 
effective National Missile Defense (NMD) system capable of 
defending the territory of the United States against limited 
ballistic missile attack (whether accidental, unauthorized, or 
deliberate).
    S. 257 does not mandate specific architectural elements of 
the NMD system, specific deployment dates, or changes to any 
arms control agreements. It allows the Defense Department 
complete flexibility in designing the NMD system. S. 257, by 
itself, would have no budgetary impact.

                     SCOPE OF THE COMMITTEE REVIEW

    The Committee is reporting S. 257 to the Senate for the 
following reasons:

Value of National Missile Defense

    A commitment to the deployment of an NMD system will have 
two crucial impacts on the security of the United States. 
First, it will signal to nations that aspire to possess 
ballistic missiles with which to coerce or attack the United 
States that pursuit of such capabilities is a waste of both 
time and resources. In this sense, commitment to an NMD system 
would have a deterrent effect on proliferation. Second, if some 
aspiring states are not deterred, a commitment to deploy an NMD 
system will ensure that American citizens and their property 
are protected from limited ballistic missile attack.

Need for a National Missile Defense

    Current administration policy on NMD--embodied in the so-
called ``3+3'' ``Deployment Readiness'' program--was originally 
based on the premise that the United States did not face a 
sufficient ballistic missile threat to justify commitment to 
the deployment of an NMD system, and that the United States 
would be able to clearly discern the emergence of such a threat 
in sufficient time to deploy a defense. The Committee has 
repeatedly expressed concern regarding this policy, and has 
advocated making an immediate commitment to the earliest 
possible deployment of an NMD system, within the limits of 
technology and affordability. In this regard, the Committee 
strongly supported S. 1873 during the 105th Congress, 
legislation that contained the same policy as set forth in S. 
257.
    The Committee's concern regarding the ``3+3'' policy is 
based in part on the fact that a threat of ballistic missile 
attack on the United States already exists. Although unlikely, 
the threat of unauthorized or accidental launches from Russia 
or China is real, and may be heightened as the armed forces of 
former Soviet Union undergo their transition to a post-Cold War 
posture.
    But there is also an imminent threat that stems from the 
growing, widely acknowledged proliferation problem. The 
President has in recent years declared the proliferation of 
weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems to be a 
national emergency. The seriousness of this problem has been 
articulated on numerous occasions by other senior 
administration officials and by Congress.
    Evidence of this growing threat abounds. The range of 
ballistic missiles possessed by proliferant states has been 
steadily increasing, sometimes in sudden leaps. North Korea, 
for example, first purchased 300 kilometer (short-range) Scud-B 
missiles in the 1980s, then developed the 500 kilometer Scud-C, 
is now deploying the 1000 kilometer No-Dong, and is developing 
a new class of ballistic missiles known as the Taepo-Dong One 
and Two. On October 31, 1998, North Korea tested the Taepo-Dong 
One missile on a flight trajectory that passed over Japan and 
demonstrated the capability to deliver a small payload to an 
intercontinental range. Although the Intelligence Community had 
observed and reported on preparations for this test, it was 
completely surprised by the sophistication of the Taepo-Dong 
One missile, especially its use of a solid fuel motor as a 
third stage. North Korea is also developing a longer-range 
version known as the Taepo-Dong Two, which will clearly be an 
intercontinental ballistic missile capable of attacking much of 
the United States and which could be operational in a few short 
years.
    Iran has also made dramatic and sudden progress in its 
Shahab-3 and Shahab-4 medium range ballistic missiles, and 
Pakistan recently tested a missile with a range of 1500 
kilometers.
    The proliferation of technology, expertise and hardware 
with which to build a long-range ballistic missile is 
accelerating rapidly, spurred by advances in information 
technology and growing demand for space launch vehicles. This 
conclusion was strongly reinforced by the Commission to assess 
the Ballistic Missile Threat to the United States, chaired by 
former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. As the Commission 
reported: ``The threat to the U.S. posed by these emerging 
capabilities is broader, more mature and evolving more rapidly 
than has been reported in estimates and reports by the 
Intelligence Community.''

Continuing technological surprise

    According to the Rumsfeld Commission report: ``The warning 
times the U.S. can expect of new, threatening ballistic missile 
deployments are being reduced. Under some plausible scenarios 
the U.S. might well have little or no warning before 
operational deployment.''
    The Intelligence Community has been repeatedly surprised by 
advances in ballistic missile technology achieved by less 
developed countries, calling into question its ability to 
anticipate precisely when the United States will be threatened 
by long-range ballistic missiles. In 1997, the Director of 
Central Intelligence (DCI) testified that Iran could have a 
medium-range missile by 2007. One year later the DCI told the 
Senate, ``since I testified, Iran's success in getting 
technology and materials from Russian companies, combined with 
recent indigenous Iranian advances, means that it could have a 
medium-range missile much sooner than I assessed last year.'' A 
Department of State official testified in September, 1997 that 
Iran could develop this missile in ``maybe one to one-and-a-
half years, and it may be shorter than that,'' meaning as much 
as nine years sooner than had been predicted only a year 
earlier by the DCI.
    Variables like the amount of outside assistance provided to 
rogue nations--factors which can significantly speed the 
acquisition of ballistic missiles--cannot be predicted 
reliably. On April 6, 1998, for example, Pakistan launched a 
ballistic missile capable of reaching a range of 1500 
kilometers. In November 1998, the Defense Department published 
``Proliferation: Threat and Response,'' its analysis of the 
world's weapons of mass destruction and delivery systems. That 
publication contained no mention of any effort by Pakistan to 
develop such a capability, crediting Pakistan with, at best, a 
300 km. short-range ballistic missile. Yet less than six months 
later, Pakistan successfully launched a missile with five times 
the range of its previous most capable weapon. Pakistan claims 
its achievements were indigenous, the government of India 
charges China with providing assistance, and United States 
government officials suggest North Korea may have provided the 
technology for the Ghauri missile. Whatever the source of 
technological aid, one thing is clear: the United States was 
once again surprised by the ballistic missile achievements of 
another state.
    There are numerous other examples of our intelligence 
community's uneven record in anticipating ballistic missile 
developments in other countries. This does not suggest 
incompetence or a lack of diligence on the part of the 
Intelligence Community, which is staffed by competent and 
dedicated people. It underscores, however, that evidence of 
technological developments is often difficult to obtain, and 
that even when such evidence is available, it is oftentimes 
difficult to discern just what it means until after the fact. 
Indeed, the DCI told the Senate in 1997 that ``gaps and 
uncertainties preclude a good projection of exactly when `rest 
of the world' countries will deploy ICBMs.''
    Given this track record, the Committee believes the 
security of American lives and property cannot be based on a 
hope that the United States will see the next major advance in 
ballistic missiles long before it is available to coerce or 
harm our nation.

Recent developments reinforce the need to move beyond ``3+3''

    As specified above, North Korea's flight test of the Taepo-
Dong One missile demonstrates the ability of rogue states to 
develop ballistic missiles capable of threatening the United 
States. Such a system could be operational years before the 
United States could field an NMD system. As the Rumsfeld 
Commission made clear in its report, such threats could 
materialize with little if any warning and there are several 
rogue countries pursuing such capabilities.
    To its credit, the Administration has now acknowledged the 
existence of this threat and has taken significant steps to 
address it. In particular, the Committee commends Secretary of 
Defense William Cohen for his decision to increase funding for 
NMD by $6.6 billion over the Future Years Defense Program. 
These developments, however, fundamentally change the rationale 
supporting the ``3+3'' policy. This policy has been based on a 
perceived need to gather more information on the ballistic 
missile threat, NMD program affordability, and technology 
maturity, before making a deployment decision. The 
Administration has now indicated that the threat is all but 
here. It has also budgeted the funds needed to implement a 
deployment decision, implicitly confirming that the program is 
affordable. The Administration's only remaining decision 
criterion for which additional information is needed relates to 
technology development. Since S. 257 makes clear that a 
deployment would only proceed once the technology is ready, the 
Committee sees no apparent reason to further delay a deployment 
decision.
    The Administration has acknowledged that it must amend or 
withdraw from the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty of 1972 
prior to deployment of an NMD system. Some have asserted that a 
deployment decision should be delayed while negotiations are 
undertaken to achieve such Treaty changes. The Committee does 
not find this argument persuasive. Although the Committee 
believes that the United States must engage Russia with caution 
and respect, it does not believe that postponing an NMD 
deployment decision will facilitate such talks. Indeed, the 
Committee believes that once a firm commitment to NMD 
deployment has been announced only then will Russia seriously 
engage in negotiations to modify the ABM Treaty. The United 
States must make it clear that its decision to deploy an NMD 
system is based on threats not envisioned at the time the ABM 
Treaty was negotiated, and that such a decision in no way 
threatens Russian security. The United States, however, must 
make it equally clear that it will proceed with deployment of 
an NMD system, whether or not Russia agrees to modify the ABM 
Treaty. The only way to clearly send such a signal is by a 
clear change in United States policy. The Committee believes 
that S. 257 is the best vehicle for accomplishing this change.

Summary

    The Committee believes the need for deployment of NMD is 
clear. The threat exists and continues to grow. The United 
States has been frequently surprised at the pace and character 
of its progress. The ability of the United States to clearly 
discern those threats well in advance of their arrival is 
limited. Confidence in our ability to respond rapidly to these 
threats must be tempered by realistic assessments of the 
technical challenges and the ability of the technical community 
to deal with them. S. 257, which clearly indicates a commitment 
to deploy NMD, will ensure the United States is prepared to 
meet that threat.

                            committee action

    In accordance with the Legislative Reorganization Act of 
1946, as amended by the Legislative Reorganization Act of 1970, 
there is set forth below the committee vote to report the 
National Missile Defense Act of 1997 (S. 1873).
    In favor: Senators Warner, Thurmond, McCain, Smith, Inhofe, 
Santorum, Snowe, Roberts, Allard, Hutchinson, Sessions, and 
Lieberman.
    Opposed: Senators Levin, Kennedy, Bingaman, Byrd, Robb, 
Cleland, and Reed.
    Voting present: Senator Landrieu.
    Vote: 12-7, with 1 voting ``present''.

               congressional budget office cost estimate

    On February 2, 1999, the Congressional Budget Office issued 
a cost estimate for S. 257. According to this estimate ``the 
bill, by itself, would have no budgetary impact.'' The cover 
letter and complete cost estimate from the Congressional Budget 
Office are shown below.

                                     U.S. Congress,
                               Congressional Budget Office,
                                  Washington, DC, February 2, 1999.
Hon. Thad Cochran,
U.S. Senate, Washington, DC.
    Dear Senator: At the request of your staff, the 
Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has prepared the enclosed 
cost estimate for S. 257, the National Missile Defense Act of 
1999.
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact is Raymond Hall.
            Sincerely,
                                             James L. Blum,
                                                   Acting Director.
    Enclosure.

S. 257--National Missile Defense Act of 1999

    S. 257 would state that it is U.S. policy to deploy as soon 
as technologically possible an effective national missile 
defense system capable of defending the territory of the United 
States against limited ballistic missile attack (whether 
accidental, unauthorized, or deliberate).
    CBO estimates that the bill, by itself, would have no 
budgetary impact. Because it would not affect direct spending 
or receipts, pay-as-you-go procedures would not apply. Any 
budgetary impact would stem from separate implementing 
legislation or from annual authorization and appropriation 
bills. How the costs of implementing the policy enunciated in 
S. 257 would compare with costs likely to be incurred under 
current law would depend on the systems and time frame required 
by subsequent legislation.
    Secton 4 of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act excludes from 
the application of that act any legislative provisions that are 
necessary for national security. That exclusion might apply to 
the provisions of this bill. In any case, the bill contains no 
intergovernmental or private-sector mandates.
    The CBO staff contact for this estimate is Raymond Hall. 
This estimate was approved by Robert A. Sunshine, Deputy 
Assistant Director for Budget Analysis.

                           regulatory impact

    Paragraph 11(b) of rule XXVI of the Standing Rules of the 
Senate requires that a report on the regulatory impact of a 
bill be included in the report on the bill. The committee finds 
that there is no regulatory impact in the cost of S. 257.

                        changes in existing law

    S. 257 does not include any changes in existing law.

                             MINORITY VIEWS

    We share the Administration's commitment to providing the 
American people with effective protection against the emerging 
long-range missile threat from rogue states. That is why we 
support the Defense Department's NMD Deployment Readiness 
Program to develop a limited NMD system to protect the United 
States against such a developing threat.
    We cannot, however, support S. 257, the ``National Missile 
Defense Act of 1999,'' as it has been reported to the Senate by 
the Armed Services Committee. We agree with the President's 
senior national security advisors that this legislation would 
needlessly make a National Missile Defense (NMD) deployment 
decision now, before the Defense Department wants to, needs to, 
or is prepared to make such a decision. This legislation would 
not advance by one day the development of an NMD system 
suitable for deployment, but could result in an increased 
threat to the United States from the proliferation of nuclear 
weapons.
    S. 257 states:

          It is the policy of the United States to deploy as 
        soon as is technologically possible an effective 
        National Missile Defense system capable of defending 
        the territory of the United States against limited 
        ballistic missile attack (whether accidental, 
        unauthorized, or deliberate).

    This language makes a commitment now to deploy a National 
Missile Defense (NMD) system without taking into account 
crucial factors identified by Defense Secretary Cohen when he 
testified to the Armed Services Committee on February 3, 1999. 
Secretary Cohen testified that the Administration will make a 
decision in June 2000 on whether to deploy a limited NMD system 
after taking into account: the threat we face from ballistic 
missiles; the operational effectiveness of the NMD system; the 
affordability of the system; and the impact of deployment on 
nuclear arms reductions and arms control treaties. S. 257 
ignores these factors and reduces the issue to one of what is 
``technologically possible''.
    Enactment of S. 257 would undermine the current effort of 
the Administration to reach a negotiated agreement on any 
changes to the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty that may be 
necessary to accommodate deployment of a limited NMD system. We 
cannot and will not give Russia or any other nation a veto over 
our NMD requirements or programs. But making a decision to 
deploy an NMD system before we attempt to negotiate changes to 
the ABM Treaty--and before DOD says the nation can responsibly 
make such a decision--could reduce Russia's willingness to work 
with us on reducing nuclear weapons under the START process, 
lead Russia to retain thousands of nuclear warheads it would 
otherwise eliminate, and dramatically increase the threat of 
nuclear proliferation.

                       administration opposition

    In a letter dated February 3, 1999 (the full text of which 
is included below), Mr. Samuel Berger, the President's National 
Security Advisor, indicated that ``if S. 257 were presented to 
the President in its current form, his senior national security 
advisors would recommend that the bill be vetoed.''
    Mr. Berger explained the basis for their position in his 
letter:

          The Administration strongly opposes S. 257 because it 
        suggests that our decision on deploying this system 
        should be based solely on a determination that the 
        system is ``technologically possible.'' This 
        unacceptably narrow definition would ignore other 
        critical factors that the Administration believes must 
        be addressed when it considers the deployment question 
        in 2000, including those that must be evaluated by the 
        President as Commander-in-Chief.
          We intend to base the deployment decision on an 
        assessment of the technology (based on an initial 
        series of rigorous flight-tests) and the proposed 
        system's operational effectiveness. In addition, the 
        President and his senior advisors will need to confirm 
        whether the rogue state ballistic missile threat to the 
        United States has developed as quickly as we now 
        expect, as well as the cost to deploy.

    Berger went on to say:

          A decision regarding NMD deployment must also be 
        addressed within the context of the ABM Treaty and our 
        objectives for achieving future reductions in strategic 
        offensive arms through START II and III. The ABM Treaty 
        remains a cornerstone of strategic stability, and 
        Presidents Clinton and Yeltsin agree that it is of 
        fundamental significance to achieving the elimination 
        of thousands of strategic nuclear arms under these 
        treaties.

    It is important to understand that S. 257 will not 
accelerate the development of a limited NMD system suitable for 
deployment by one day. Senior Defense Department officials have 
stated repeatedly that DOD is already proceeding with the 
development of the NMD system as fast as is technically 
possible. Deputy Secretary of Defense John Hamre testified to 
the Armed Services Committee on October 2, 1998 that the NMD 
program ``is as close as we can get in the Department of 
Defense to a Manhattan Project. We are pushing this very 
fast''. General Joseph Ralston, the Vice Chairman of the Joint 
Chiefs of Staff, testified at the same hearing that ``I know of 
no other program in the Department of Defense that has had as 
many constraints removed in terms of oversight and reviews just 
so that we can develop and deploy it as quickly as possible.'' 
As DOD has made clear on numerous occasions, adding more money 
will not accelerate the program.
    On January 20, Defense Secretary Cohen announced four 
decisions on the NMD program, while emphasizing that ``No 
deployment decision has been made at this time. That will be 
made in June of 2000.'' The four items are as follows:
          (1) For the first time, the Administration is 
        budgeting the funds ($6.6 billion) in the Future Years 
        Defense Program for possible deployment of a limited 
        NMD system. This funding will permit deployment if the 
        decision is made to deploy. Without this funding, no 
        deployment would be possible. This would bring the 
        total NMD funding for 1999-2005 to $10.5 billion.
          (2) Secretary Cohen affirmed that the Administration 
        expects that the threat of ballistic missiles from 
        rogue nations will continue to grow and will pose a 
        threat to the U.S. territory in the near future.
          (3) Secretary Cohen announced that the Administration 
        will seek possible changes to the ABM Treaty with 
        Russia in the event that deployment would require 
        modification. He also noted that if we cannot agree on 
        changes to the Treaty, the United States could exercise 
        its right to withdraw from the Treaty if necessary.
          (4) The earliest anticipated deployment date for the 
        NMD system was delayed from FY 2003 to FY 2005 because 
        of continuing concerns about the technology of the 
        system and because certain critical tests will not 
        occur until FY 2003.
    Secretary Cohen's announcement clearly demonstrates the 
Administration's commitment to continue moving forward with a 
limited NMD program. The additional funding would permit 
deployment if a decision is made to deploy. The threat is 
clearly developing more quickly than was believed even one year 
ago. At the same time, the Administration policy--unlike S. 
257--provides the flexibility to consider the full range of 
relevant factors and to pursue planned negotiations on possible 
ABM Treaty modifications before making a deployment decision.

                Technology and operational effectiveness

    Even with Secretary Cohen's announcement that the earliest 
anticipated deployment date is now 2005, the NMD program 
remains high risk. Numerous technical challenges remain, and 
the integration of all the component parts into a system that 
can demonstrate its capability is years away. The first 
integrated system test using a production interceptor and kill 
vehicle is not scheduled to take place until 2003. Prior to 
that time tests will rely on surrogate components for some of 
the most critical pieces of hardware.
    S. 257 would make the deployment commitment now, prior to 
any demonstration of the capability of the system, and prior to 
any ability to evaluate whether it is operationally effective 
and able to meet its system requirements. As the Defense 
Department and Joint Chiefs of Staff have pointed out, if we 
were to commit to deploying an NMD system ``as soon as 
technologically possible'', we might be committing ourselves to 
building a system that is not as effective as we would need or 
desire to counter the evolving threat.
    In 1997, General John Shalikashvili, Chairman of the Joint 
Chiefs of Staff, testified to the Committee that the earliest 
possible system would not provide optimum capability: ``The NMD 
Deployment Readiness Program optimizes the potential for an 
effective National Missile Defense system. If the decision is 
made to deploy an NMD system in the near term, then the system 
fielded would provide a very limited capability. If deploying a 
system in the near term can be avoided, DOD can continue to 
enhance the technology base and the commensurate capability of 
the NMD program system.''
    By committing to deploy now, before the system has been 
fully tested and before its operational capability has been 
demonstrated, S. 257 would run the risk of committing to a 
system that is either inadequate or, worse yet, ineffective.
    The normal DOD acquisition process for major weapon systems 
requires a rigorous review of numerous technical, performance 
and cost considerations at each major decision point in the 
development or acquisition process. DOD Regulation 5000.2-R 
establishes the mandatory procedures for major defense 
acquisition programs: ``Threat projections, system performance, 
unit production cost estimates, life cycle costs, cost 
performance tradeoffs, acquisition strategy, affordability 
constraints, and risk management shall be major considerations 
at each milestone decision point.'' S. 257 would mandate a 
deployment decision while ignoring all of these critical 
acquisition requirements.
    Deputy Defense Secretary Hamre and Vice Chairman of the JCS 
General Ralston have testified that the Defense Department has 
already put the NMD program on a very fast track. General 
Shelton has testified that the program has been compressed from 
a normal 16-year process by more than half. This speed led an 
independent review team, chaired by former Air Force Chief of 
Staff General Welch, to criticize a ``rush to failure'', citing 
the need for more testing and more time to evaluate and 
incorporate test results. Secretary Cohen's announcement that 
the deployment date is expected no sooner than 2005 is designed 
to reduce the risk of failure. In mandating deployment ``as 
soon as technologically possible'', S. 257 could undermine the 
Department's efforts to ensure that the NMD system is 
operationally effective and cost-effective.

                           ABM Treaty Issues

    The United States and Russia agree that the ABM Treaty is 
indispensable for further reductions in nuclear weapons. At the 
Helsinki Summit on March 21, 1997, Presidents Clinton and 
Yeltsin issued a joint statement on the ABM Treaty, which began 
as follows:

          President Clinton and President Yeltsin, expressing 
        their commitment to strengthening strategic stability 
        and international security, emphasizing the importance 
        of further reductions in strategic offensive arms, and 
        recognizing the fundamental significance of the Anti-
        Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty for these objectives as 
        well as the necessity for effective theater missile 
        defense (TMD) systems, consider it their common task to 
        preserve the ABM Treaty, prevent circumvention of it, 
        and enhance its viability.

    Defense Secretary Cohen has made it clear that both 
pursuing a limited NMD program and maintaining the ABM Treaty, 
are in our national interest and can be accomplished. During 
his press conference on January 20, 1999, Secretary Cohen 
stated his view on the ABM Treaty:

          I believe it's in our interest to maintain that. I 
        think we need to modify it to allow for an NMD program 
        that I've outlined, but the ABM Treaty, I think, is 
        important to maintain the limitations on offensive 
        missiles. To the extent that there is no ABM Treaty, 
        then certainly Russia or other countries would feel 
        free to develop as many offensive weapons as they 
        wanted, which would set in motion a comparable dynamic 
        to offset that with more missiles here.

    Mr. Berger's letter of February 3, 1999, amplifies the 
Administration's views about the importance of maintaining the 
ABM Treaty and nuclear arms reductions as a factor in the NMD 
deployment decision:

          S. 257 suggests that neither the ABM Treaty nor our 
        objectives for START II and START III are factors in an 
        NMD deployment decision. This would clearly be 
        interpreted by Russia as evidence that we are not 
        interested in working towards a cooperative solution, 
        one that is in both our nations' security interests. I 
        cannot think of a worse way to begin a negotiation on 
        the ABM Treaty, nor one that would put at greater risk 
        the hard-won bipartisan gains of START. Our goal would 
        be to achieve success in negotiations on the ABM Treaty 
        while also securing the strategic arms reductions 
        available through START. That means we need to 
        recognize and address the interrelationship between 
        these two tracks.

    The Armed Services Committee has previously recognized the 
importance of a cooperative approach on missile defense and the 
ABM Treaty. Last year the Committee included a provision in the 
Strom Thurmond National Defense Authorization Act for FY 1999 
that encouraged the U.S. to work in a cooperative manner with 
Russia on issues of missile defense. The Conference Report 
Statement of Managers on this bill stated:

          The conferees believe that a cooperative approach to 
        ballistic missile defense could lead to a mutually 
        agreeable evolution of the ABM Treaty, i.e., either 
        modification or replacement by a newer understanding or 
        agreement, that would clear the way for the United 
        States and Russia to deploy national missile defenses 
        each believes necessary for its security. If 
        implemented in a cooperative manner, the conferees do 
        not believe that such steps would undermine the 
        original intent of the ABM Treaty, which was to 
        maintain strategic stability and permit significant 
        nuclear arms reductions.

    S. 257 is inconsistent with this understanding of the 
importance of a cooperative approach towards the ABM Treaty to 
maintaining strategic stability and permitting large reductions 
in nuclear weapons. If enacted, S. 257 would make it much more 
difficult for the Administration to maintain the continuing 
benefits of the ABM Treaty and the cooperative approach to 
nuclear arms reductions under the START process.
    By making the deployment decision now, S. 257 would 
preclude the Administration from negotiating possible changes 
to the ABM Treaty before making an NMD deployment decision in 
June of 2000. This is one of the key reasons that the 
President's senior national security advisors are strongly 
opposed to S. 257 and would recommend a veto of it.

                               conclusion

    S. 257 would needlessly make a premature NMD deployment 
decision and jeopardize our ongoing effort to work 
cooperatively with Russia on possible changes to the ABM 
Treaty, an effort the President and his senior national 
security advisors believe is critically important. S. 257 would 
not accelerate the NMD system by a single day, but could 
increase the proliferation risk from thousands of nuclear 
weapons that would otherwise be eliminated through the START 
process. In other words, S. 257 would provide no tangible 
benefit to the NMD program, but it could reduce our security.
    We are all concerned with the need to protect Americans 
from the threat of ballistic missiles from rogue nations, as we 
are with the need to protect Americans from other threats. The 
Defense Department is already proceeding as fast as possible 
with the development of a limited National Missile Defense 
system. The Administration is working in a cooperative manner 
to negotiate possible changes to the ABM Treaty that could 
preserve the benefits of that treaty, including the verified 
reduction of thousands of Russian nuclear weapons. Secretary 
Cohen's plan is the right one and we should stick with it.
                                   Carl Levin.
                                   Ted Kennedy.
                                   Jeff Bingaman.
                                   Robert C. Byrd.
                                   Chuck Robb.
                                   Max Cleland.
                                   Jack Reed.

                                           The White House,
                                      Washington, February 3, 1999.
Hon. Carl Levin,
Ranking Minority Member, Committee on Armed Services, U.S. Senate, 
        Washington, DC.
    Dear Senator Levin: I understand the Senate Armed Services 
Committee will consider tomorrow S. 257--The National Missile 
Defense Act of 1999.
    I want to underscore that the Administration shares with 
Congress a commitment to ensuring the American people are 
provided effective protection against the emerging long-range 
missile threat from rogue states. That is why we have since 
1996 diligently pursued a deployment readiness program to 
develop a limited National Missile Defense (NMD) system 
designed to protect against such threats. We have now budgeted 
$10.5 billion between FY 1999-2005 for this program, including 
the funds that would be necessary during this period to deploy 
a limited NMD system.
    Secretary Cohen has recently made clear that the 
Administration will address the deployment decision in June 
2000. The Administration strongly opposes S. 257 because it 
suggests that our decision on deploying this system should be 
based solely on a determination that the system is 
``technologically possible.'' This unacceptably narrow 
definition would ignore other critical factors that the 
Administration believes must be addressed when it considers the 
deployment question in 2000, including those that must be 
evaluated by the President as Commander-in-Chief.
    We intend to base the deployment decision on an assessment 
of the technology (based on an initial series of rigorous 
flight-tests) and the proposed system's operational 
effectiveness. In addition, the President and his senior 
advisors will need to confirm whether the rogue state ballistic 
missile threat to the United States has developed as quickly as 
we now expect, as well as the cost to deploy.
    A decision regarding NMD deployment must also be addressed 
within the context of the ABM Treaty and our objectives for 
achieving future reductions in strategic offensive arms through 
START II and III. The ABM Treaty remains a cornerstone of 
strategic stability, and Presidents Clinton and Yeltsin agree 
that it is of fundamental significance to achieving the 
elimination of thousands of strategic nuclear arms under these 
treaties.
    The Administration has made clear to Russia that deployment 
of a limited NMD that required amendments to the ABM Treaty 
would not be incompatible with the underlying purpose of the 
ABM Treaty, i.e., to maintain strategic stability and enable 
further reductions in strategic nuclear arms. The ABM Treaty 
has been amended before, and we see no reason why we should not 
be able to modify it again to permit deployment of an NMD 
effective against rogue nation missile threats.
    We could not and would not give Russia or any other nation 
a veto over our NMD requirements. It is important to recognize 
that our sovereign rights are fully protected by the supreme 
national interests clause that is an integral part of this 
Treaty. But neither should we issue ultimatums. We are prepared 
to negotiate any necessary amendments in good faith.
    S. 257 suggests that neither the ABM Treaty nor our 
objectives for START II and START III are factors in an NMD 
deployment decision. this would clearly be interpreted by 
Russia as evidence that we are not interested in working 
towards a cooperative solution, one that is in both our 
nations' security interests. I cannot think of a worse way to 
begin a negotiation on the ABM Treaty, nor one that would put 
at greater risk the hard-won bipartisan gains of START. Our 
goal would be to achieve success in negotiations on the ABM 
Treaty while also securing the strategic arms reductions 
available through START. That means we need to recognize and 
address the interrelationship between these two tracks.
    The Administration hopes the Senate will work to modify S. 
257 to reflect the priority that we believe must be attached to 
the ABM and START objectives I have outlined above. But if S. 
257 were presented to the President in its current form, his 
senior national security advisors would recommend that the bill 
be vetoed.
            Sincerely,
                                  Samuel R. Berger,
                                 Assistant to the President
                                     for National Security Affairs.