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Key Issues Missile Defense Issues Opposing the National Missile Defense Act

Opposing the National Missile Defense Act
March 16, 1999

Mr. BIDEN. Mr. President, proponents of S. 257, the bill we are debating now, suggest that this bill is vital to our country's defense. The very distinguished Senator from Tennessee just got up and made his case, and as an illustration he pointed to the technology that the Chinese Government, apparently through espionage, has acquired.

I want to make it clear for the record, I am not confirming anything at this point. But assume that

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what was said is accurate -- and I am not disputing it either. One of the two things the Senator pointed out, as things we should be worried about, is that they may have acquired the capability of MIRVing missiles. For the public, that means they can put more than one nuclear bomb on the nose of a missile, an intercontinental ballistic missile. And they may have gained the capacity to independently target those warheads.

Put another way, we know what the Russians can do. The Russians have SS-18s and other intercontinental missiles, each with any of 3, 7, 10 -- depending on the missile -- nuclear bombs with a combined capacity that exceeds Hiroshima and Nagasaki. They could launch a missile, and within 30 minutes they could have one of those warheads, one of those nuclear weapons, landing in Wilmington, DE, a small town, in relative terms, in my State, taking out all of the Delaware Valley and its 10 million people, and the same missile could send one warhead to Washington, DC, one to Roanoke, VA, et cetera -- all with one missile. That is a very, very, very awesome capacity.

We are worried that the Chinese may have acquired some of that technology.

It is also suggested that the Chinese may have acquired the capacity to target with more accuracy. An accurate missile can breach the overpressure limit of certain missile silos -- the pounds per square inch they could sustain from a blast and still be able to launch -- so it became important during the time of the arms buildup between the Soviet Union and the United States what the hard kill capacity was. That is, could you fire a missile that would not only kill all the people in all the Delaware Valley, but, assuming there were silos that had Minuteman rockets in those silos with nuclear weapons, could also knock out that missile itself? That is what they called the hard kill. Accuracy became a big deal because you could take out the other guy's missiles, and not just his cities.

We had the capacity to drop these missiles 12,000 or 13,000 miles away within 30 minutes on pinpointed areas the size of a soccer field in the Soviet Union then, in Russia now. We are worried the Chinese may have acquired that capacity. I think my friend from Tennessee is absolutely correct to be worried about that; so am I.

What are we doing here today? We are debating what I believe to be a political document, not a substantive piece of legislation that adds anything to the concept of what our strategic doctrine should be. We are saying that Taepo Dong missiles in the next 1 to 5 years -- the Koreans may be able to get up to five of them -- may be able to hit the United States, assuming the regime in North Korea lasts that long or outlives the research that would be required to get this done. We are talking about building a thin nuclear defense system to counter that immediate threat and future threats from Iran, Iraq, and other rogue states, and we are talking about it in almost total disregard of what impact it will have upon the ABM Treaty.

People say, "What is the ABM Treaty?" The ABM Treaty, as Senator Dorgan discussed, is the basis upon which we have gone from somewhere on the order of 25,000 to 30,000 nuclear warheads -- and the capacity that my friend from Tennessee is worried about the Chinese acquiring -- down to 12,000 total, roughly, or 13,000 maybe, roughly evenly divided between the United States and Russia.

Guess what? George Bush came along and said the single most destabilizing thing of all -- in what I call "nuclear theology" -- are these "MIRVed" missiles, those missiles with up to 10 nuclear bombs on their tip, able to be targeted independently, once they separate, able to go in ten different directions with significant accuracy.

Why are they destabilizing? They are destabilizing because of the nuclear scenarios about who strikes first and whether you can strike back. Anybody who faces an enemy that has this capacity has to target those missiles, because they are the single most dangerous thing out there. That means that in a crisis, if a missile were accidentally launched, or we thought one was launched, what we would have to do is go and strike those missiles first.

What would the Russians now have to do? They would have to launch on warning. Knowing that their MIRVed missiles were logical targets, they would adopt the use-it-or-lose-it philosophy. It is the only rational decision a nuclear planner could make.

So George Bush figured out these are incredibly destabilizing weapons. They are vulnerable to a first attack by sophisticated missiles and they are awesome -- awesome, as the kids say -- in their destructive capacity. So what do you do? As long as they are around, it means they must be on a hair trigger. No country who possesses them can wait for them to be struck before they fire them. Everybody can understand that. The gallery is nodding; they all get it. They figured it out. When it is explained in simple terms, everybody understands it. That is called crisis instability.

What did we do? George Bush came along and said these are bad things to have hanging around, so we negotiated this treaty called the START II treaty where, in an incredible bit of negotiation on the part of the Republican administration, they convinced the Russians they should do away with these MIRVed missiles -- do away with them. That means we would achieve crisis stability; it adds up to stability.

What is left on both sides are single-warhead missiles that don't have to be launched on warning, because they are less tempting targets in a first strike; therefore, you pull back from the hair trigger. So if, God forbid, there is a mistake, it doesn't mean Armageddon is guaranteed. That is a sound policy.

There is only one little trick. Russia has a quasidemocracy -- my term, "quasi" democracy. They have learned the perils and joys of living with a parliament, a congress, a legislative body, called the Duma. The Duma has not ratified this agreement yet.

Why hasn't the Duma ratified the agreement? The Duma has not ratified the agreement for a lot of reasons. Some Nationalists think it is a bad idea; some old apparatchik Communists think it is a terrible idea; some of the democrats there don't quite know what to do as the next step. Here is what happens: Unfortunately for the Russians, the bulk of their nuclear arsenal is in these MIRVed, silo-based weapons, these intercontinental ballistic missiles with multiple warheads. The bulk of ours are on submarines (which are less vulnerable to a first strike), in single-warhead missiles called Minuteman missiles, or on B-1 bombers and B-52 bombers.

The Russians, if they go forward with the deal to destroy their silo-based MIRVed missiles, at the end of the day will have less destructive capacity in their arsenal than we will. Now, they don't have to keep it as less, because they are allowed to build single-warhead missiles so we would each end up with the same number of warheads. But guess what? They are bankrupt. They don't have any money. They hardly have the money they need to destroy the missiles they have agreed to destroy. That is why we have the Nunn-Lugar program, spending millions of dollars a year to send American technicians over to Russia to help dismantle, destroy, break up, and crush strategic weapons.

Think about that. If I had stood on the floor 20 years ago and said that, my colleagues would have had a little white jacket ready for me. They would have hauled me off to the nearest insane asylum, I having lost my credibility completely by suggesting that the Russians would ever let Americans come over and destroy their nuclear weapons.

The reason they made that agreement is that they realized it is in their long-term interests, and they had no money to do it. If they don't have money to do that, they also don't have money to build these new weapons that only have one bomb on the end. It costs a lot of money to do that. So if they can't do that and they keep the agreement called START II, they end up at the end of the day with fewer nuclear bombs than we have -- something we would never do. We would never allow us not to have parity with the Russians.

That is their dilemma right now. That is why the administration is arguing about a thing called START III. At Helsinki, President Clinton said not only should we do START II, we could jump and do START III and take the total number of nuclear warheads each of us has to between 2,000 and 2,500, from 6,000 to 6,500 which is in the first stage of the reduction.

Obviously, the Russians are very interested in being able to go right to START III. They don't want to spend a whole lot of time where we have more bombs than they have, and they don't have the money to build many new missiles. Although they are allowed to build more missiles, they don't have the money to do it.

What are we debating? We are here debating as if it were a serious part of our nuclear strategy whether or not we will deploy some time in the future a system that has not yet been developed, that if it is developed may be able to take out what might end up being up to five weapons that might be able to get to the continental United States, from a government that might be in place 5 years from now.

So, what to worry about, right? No problem, it is not going to stop the Russian missiles, so they are not going to get worried about this. Let's put this in reverse. Let's assume we were about to ratify a START II that was going to put us at having fewer nuclear bombs than the Russians, and we heard that the Russian Government was about to erect a nuclear shield -- they called it a "thin" shield -- to intercept missiles that were going to come from Iran. Now, I am sure not a single Member on this floor would say the following: "You know, what those Russians are really doing is erecting something that is going to stop our missiles from being able to strike. What have they done to us? They have convinced our administration to destroy missiles that we have that can penetrate their territory now; they convinced them to do that. We are going to end up with fewer missiles than them, and they are going ahead at the same time and building this nuclear shield. And you actually have some people in the Duma saying, 'The ABM Treaty doesn't mean anything to me.'"

What do you think would happen with my right-wing friends, my left-wing friends, my middle friends, all my friends? There would be a mild frenzy. I can hear the Republican Party now; they would be talking about the selling out of America, and they would have good reason to think about that. We would have Democrats joining, and I can hear Pat Buchanan now -- he could make a whole campaign out of that.

Well, what do you think is going on in Russia right now with the Nationalists and the old Communists? Are they listening to our debate about the ABM Treaty, which some people say doesn't apply anymore? That is not what the sponsor of the amendment is saying, to the best of my knowledge, but others are. And we say to them that they should not worry. Why worry? We are only building this tiny, thin shield. Our shield isn't designed to affect them.

Yet, to the best of my knowledge, the sponsor of this bill would not even accept an amendment that would say, by the way, if whatever we come up with would violate the ABM Treaty, we will negotiate a change with the Russians first. It seems like a simple proposition, doesn't it?

Now, where does this leave us? I think I can say, without fear of contradiction, that at best, it leaves us with essentially a congressional resolution of no meaning, of no consequence, changing nothing that the administration has said about seeking the ability to have a thin missile defense system, for it doesn't appropriate money; it says this is subject -- which is obvious -- to the yearly appropriations bill. It doesn't make any guarantees; it doesn't say anything of consequence. In one sense, it is a meaningless resolution.

But in another sense, because we have debated it so vigorously, it is invested with a meaning beyond its substance. What I worry about now is that it will be taken as viewing our national strategy on nuclear weapons as no longer envisioning as the centerpiece of that strategy the ABM Treaty -- the very treaty that allows us to keep reducing the number of strategic weapons on each side.

Let me make one more point. You may say, "Well, Biden, what does the ABM Treaty have to do with the START agreement and reducing these nuclear weapons?" Well, there are two kinds of truisms in this nuclear theology. One is, if you are incapable of building a missile shield, and you think the other side might build one, then there is only one thing you can do: build more missiles to overwhelm the defense system. That is axiomatic, it is cheaper, it is consistent with old-line policy, and it is doable. At a minimum, you would say, don't destroy the number of weapons you have.

Look at it this way. If you think the other team is about to put up this missile shield -- thin, thick or medium -- and you now have 6,500 weapons that can reach their territory, you know, as a matter of course, that if you reduce that number to 2,500 or 2,000, you have a two-thirds fewer opportunities to penetrate that shield. So why would you do that? Why would you do that?

I realize my friend from Louisiana is about to offer an amendment that I hope will at least be read as having the impact of saying, hey, look, arms reduction is still important to us -- translated to mean the ABM Treaty still makes a difference. But let's understand that, at best, this bill is hortatory. At worst, it is a real, real bad idea because, to the extent that the threat is real -- and there is a potential threat from Korea -- to the extent that it is real, it pales, pales, pales in comparison to the threat that remains in Russia -- a country that is, at its best, to be characterized now as struggling to keep its head above water; at worst, it is losing the battle of democratization.

Mr. President, the threat of a missile attack on the United States is real and disturbing, but the true test is not how angry we get, but how rationally we deal with the threats to our national interests. A rational development and deployment of a limited nuclear missile defense does not require us to ignore our ABM Treaty obligations. Only fear and politics drive missile defense adherents to take such a risk in the bill before us.

My generation understands both that fear and the dream of a ballistic missile defense. Anyone who has ducked under his desk in grade school in an air raid drill knows the collective sense of vulnerability and futility caused by the thought of a nuclear holocaust.

We have spent well over $100 billion in our effort to ease that sense of helplessness through civil defense or missile defense. But the role of this Senate, over two centuries, has been to resist those savage fears and passionate dreams that would otherwise take us down a dangerous path. America needs a balanced strategy to meet the rogue state missile threat, while also preserving the ABM Treaty, continuing the START process, and using nonproliferation assistance to combat loose nukes in Russia and, at the same time, advancing entry into force of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. That is what I believe to be a sound and balanced strategy, and that is what I hope Senator Kerry and Senator Levin and I will propose in a thing called the "National Security Policy Act of 1999."

I respectfully suggest that it is a far cry from the "bumper sticker" bill that is currently before us. If reason can overcome fear, perhaps reason can also overcome politics. If the Republicans have the courage and foresight to pursue their goal of a limited national missile defense, while preserving arms control and strategic stability, I urge them to get to the business of talking about that.

But right now, what is left uncertain is not whether or not we should have a limited nuclear defense -- we should and could if it is capable of being done -- but it can and must be done only in the context of the ABM Treaty, START II and START III, as well as the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. That constitutes a national strategic policy.

Mr. President, I have departed from my text in order to convey the depth of my concern over this bill. Allow me now to restate those concerns in a more precise manner.

When I said that this was nothing more than an exercise in political theater, I may have sounded like the Police Commissioner in the film "Casablanca." I am "shocked...shocked" to discover politics in the U.S. Senate. But we ought to make one thing clear: the issue at stake is not -- is not -- whether to deploy a national missile defense.

Recent Administration actions make clear that it will deploy a missile defense system if that should be in the national interest. The real issue here is whether we will be pragmatic or ideological about it.

The pragmatic solution considers the cost of a missile defense; this ideological bill ignores it.

Serious technical challenges remain in developing a national missile defense system. But that is not for a lack of trying. In fact, we have committed significant resources to the effort. Deputy Secretary of Defense John Hamre testified last October that the National Missile Defense program "is as close as we can get in the Department of Defense to a Manhattan Project."

The Clinton administration has submitted plans to spend approximately $30 billion in additional funds between 1999 and 2005 for missile defense development and deployment. Of that, roughly $11 billion is earmarked for deployment of a "thin" National Missile Defense with 20 interceptors. The Defense Department estimated last summer that an expanded 100-interceptor system at a single site would cost upwards of $15 billion to deploy.

That $11-15 billion may very well provide us with a deployed system that is effective against rudimentary countermeasures. It is not at all clear, however, that it will buy a system that is capable against truly advanced countermeasures, such as are claimed for Russia's new SS-27 missile or even other current Russian or Chinese missiles.

Now, before my colleagues remind me that our missile defense system is not aimed at Russia, I would refer them to the Rumsfeld Report. That report warns that technology transfer is the key way that potential antagonists might acquire missile capabilities against the United States.

The danger is that we will spend billions of dollars deploying a missile defense system that may work against SCUD-like technology, but will not work even five or ten years down the road, against the potential threat from rogue states who have bought or developed more sophisticated missile technology.

It may be the case that we will have to spend those $11-15 billion dollars on missile defense deployment. It seems to me, however, that a much smaller sum might suffice to remove much of the threat that concerns us here.

If we could move from START to START Two and START Three, a portion of that $11-15 billion could be spent on dismantling Russian nuclear weapons and securing its large quantity of fissile material. This would make a real, immediate, and lasting contribution to our security.

Another portion of those funds could be used to curb North Korea's efforts to develop intercontinental missiles or weapons of mass destruction. It is clear that we need to inject new life into the 1994 Agreed Framework if we are to curtail North Korea's nuclear program. It is also clear that we need to take proactive steps to halt North Korea's long-range missile capability.

To be taken seriously, any U.S. initiative toward North Korea must combine carrots and sticks. We must bolster our deterrent posture to demonstrate to the North Koreans the penalties they face if they threaten United States security. Improving our theater defenses, increasing our capability for pre-emptive strikes if we should face imminent attack, interdicting North Korean missile shipments abroad, and increasing our security cooperation with other regional actors are all possible sticks we can wield.

At the same time, our policy should also provide adequate incentives to persuade the North Korean elite that their best choice for survival is the path of civil international behavior. These incentives could include our joining Japan and South Korea in funding two light-water reactors in exchange for our possession of the spent fuel in North Korea's Yongbyon nuclear reactor, sanctions relief in return for a verifiable end to North Korea's missile programs, and security assurances that we have no intention of forcing a change in North Korea's political system.

While these initiatives would costs money, together they could be funded for far less than the $11-15 billion we plan to spend for missile defense deployment. Thus, an article in Sunday's Washington Post noted that North Korea has already offered to cease exporting its missile technology in return for only one billion dollars.

We rejected that proposal, and I think we can get that deal for a lower price. But we should remember our experience in negotiating access to that suspect underground site in North Korea. In this time of famine, North Korea would settle for food aid instead of cash. And a billion dollars spent on food aid goes to American farmers, rather than to North Korean weapons.

I don't know how much it would cost to truly end North Korea's missile and nuclear programs, but we might consider putting our money where our mouth is. While an embryonic missile defense program might increase our sense of security, halting the North Korean's missile and nuclear programs would provide real benefit to our national security.

The pragmatic solution considers whether the first "technologically possible" national missile defense will be reliable and effective, especially in light of warnings by the head of the Ballistic Missile Defense Office that national missile defense is a "high risk" program. This ideological bill commits us to spend at least 5 million dollars per day to build and deploy that first system, even if it has only a mediocre test record.

Most importantly, the pragmatic solution considers ballistic missile defense in the context of the U.S.-Russian strategic relationship.

Perhaps we will need to deploy a national missile defense. But this ideological bill would foolishly sacrifice arms control, non-proliferation and strategic stability with Russia in order to field an imperfect missile defense.

And the fact is, we don't have to make that sacrifice in order to address the ballistic missile threat. But we do have to reject simplistic answers to complex issues.

The basic problem with this bill is not that it advocates a national missile defense, but that it is so narrowly ideological about it. What a shame, that we spend our time debating right-wing litmus tests. A bill that looked more broadly at challenges to our national security would be much more worthy of our attention.

To underscore that point, I intend to introduce in the coming days the "National Security Policy Act of 1999." Working with me on that bill are:

  • Senator Kerrey of Nebraska, who is Vice Chairman of the Intelligence Committee; and
  • Senator Levin of Michigan, who is Ranking Member on the Armed Services Committee.

We earnestly hope that our bill will provoke a much more serious debate than is possible on the one-sentence bill before us. We invite our Republican colleagues to join with us in forging a comprehensive, truly bipartisan consensus on critical national security issues.

One such issue is the future of deterrence. Is deterrence so weak that we must deploy a national missile defense to combat third-rate powers like North Korea, Iran and Iraq? If so, then I believe we must reinforce deterrence.

Deterrence is -- and will remain -- the bedrock of U.S. nuclear strategy. Rogue states must never be allowed to forget that utter annihilation will be their fate if they should attack the United States with weapons of mass destruction. We should emphasize that basic fact.

What about the risk of ICBM's in the hands of a leader too crazy to be deterred? If that should happen, we should make it clear that the United States will destroy -- pre-emptively -- any ICBM's that such a leader may target at us. I intend that our bill will do that, building on our basic deterrence policy.

What is it about nuclear deterrence that makes it so hard for some people to support that strategy? Nuclear deterrence between the United States and the Soviets, and now between the United States and Russia, is based upon what is sometimes called "Mutually Assured Destruction" or a "balance of terror." Each country maintains the capability to destroy the other, even if the other side strikes first.

Both the right wing and the left wing of American politics rebel against this. They abhor leaving our very fates to U.S. and Russian political leaders and military personnel. They also hear the warning of some religious and ethical leaders that no nuclear war can ever be a "just war" in moral terms.

But the "balance of terror" remains in place, fully half a century after the Soviet Union joined the United States as a nuclear power. And those of us in the center of the political spectrum continue to support it.

Why is that? To put it simply: "because it works."

Yet one of the implicit purposes of this bill is to substitute our policy of deterrence with one of defense. Instead of deterring an attack on our territory we would defend against such an attack with missile defenses.

Some people believe we must make this transition from deterrence to defense -- in this case using a National Missile Defense -- because the leaders of North Korea, Iran, and Iraq cannot be deterred by the same means we have used to deter Russia and China. I disagree. These countries' leaders take tactical risks, but none has been willing to risk complete annihilation.

Let's consider the record of deterrence against extremist leaders.

In the 1950's, the Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin was deterred from a conventional invasion of Western Europe. But why? Why did the Soviets not crush the Berlin Airlift? Because Stalin -- that great butcher of souls -- feared a nuclear war.

Why did the Soviet Union pull back from confrontation in Berlin in 1961 and Cuba in 1962? Because Nikita Khrushchev -- that foolish risk-taker who was later deposed by his nervous cohorts -- still feared nuclear war.

Why has China not invaded Taiwan? Because every Chinese Communist leader -- from the consummate butcher Mao to the would-be capitalist dictators of today -- has feared nuclear war.

More recently, Saddam Hussein was deterred from using chemical or biological weapons during the Gulf War, despite his threats to do so, by the United State's promise that such an attack would meet with a devastating U.S. response.

The record demonstrates that extremist states are deterred when we credibly threaten to retaliate, and when our threatened retaliation imperils their vital interests.

That is what has deterred the Iraqis, the Soviets, and the Chinese from using weapons of mass destruction against U.S. interests in the past. That is what has brought the Serbs to the bargaining table, both in the Bosnian and Kosovo crises. That is what has deterred the Syrians from directly attacking Israel.

Yet our concern today is over the North Korean threat. At some point in the near future, the North Koreans may achieve a limited ability to strike U.S. territory. We must ask ourselves whether the logic of deterrence -- a logic that has worked in so many other instances -- will work against the North Koreans. Again, lets consider the record.

For years, North Korea has had the ability to rain short-range missiles on all of South Korea and to kill untold thousands within range of North Korean artillery. Yet the South Korean and U.S. militaries have kept the peace by threatening punishing retaliation should the North Koreans attack. We have kept the peace by threatening to destroy the very heart of the North Korean regime -- its military -- which is crucial to its control over its population.

Our military will continue to have that retaliatory capability in the North Korean theater of operations -- whether we have a national missile defense or not. We maintain approximately 37,000 troops on the ground in Korea, including the 8th Army and 7th Air Force, to say nothing of the 47,000 American troops in Japan or the portions of the 7th Fleet deployed in the region.

Moreover, the North Koreans must know that our early warning radars could pinpoint the source of any missile attack on the United States and that such an attack would bring a devastating response.

Maintaining U.S. retaliatory forces, and demonstrating our willingness to use them when necessary, are the keys that have kept the peace. There is every prospect that the credible threat of retaliation will continue to deter extremist states in the future.

So let us all think carefully -- and rationally -- before letting our fears of destruction move us away from a policy that has avoided destruction so well and for so long.

Traditional deterrence may unnerve us because it depends upon rational leaders and weapons control systems. But the alternative -- missile defense -- depends in turn upon the perfection of complex systems and their human components.

Think of the great computer-assisted systems of our time:

  • the Internal Revenue Service . . .
  • the air traffic control system . . .
  • credit bureaus . . .
  • or the National Weather Service.

Then ask yourselves whether missile defense will really make you safe -- especially if the price of it is the end of the START process and, therefore, continued Russian reliance upon MIRVed ICBM's.

Whatever missiles a rogue state might build, however, the one missile threat to our very existence is still from Russia. A rogue state might deploy a few tens of nuclear warheads; Russia has thousands. And what is especially appalling is this bill's cavalier treatment of the U.S.-Russia relationship.

As we debate S. 257, I have to ask myself: Why is the other side so determined to pass this bill, rather than a more serious piece of legislation? The sad truth is that the real goal of many ballistic missile defense adherents is to do away with the ABM Treaty.

Why would they want to do that? Because they know that the "thin" missile defense proposed in this bill is at best a strictly limited defense. It may work against a handful of incoming missiles, but not against an attack of any serious magnitude.

To achieve a defense against a serious ballistic missile attack with nuclear weapons, we would probably need multiple radar sites -- perhaps using ship-borne radars -- and surely more interceptor sites. (The Heritage Foundation proposes putting the interceptors on ships, as well.)

To stop a serious missile attack using chemical or biological warheads, we might well need a boost-phase intercept system, either ship-borne or space-based. That is because the chemical or biological agents could be carried in scores of bomblets dispersed shortly after boost-phase shut-off. The national missile defense systems currently under development would be nearly useless against such bomblets.

So missile defense is rather like Lay's Potato Chips: it's hard to eat just one. For the real ballistic missile defense adherents, even "Star Wars" is therefore not dead. But the ABM Treaty bars both ship-borne and space-based ABM systems.

Still, the dream persists: if only this bill were passed, if only the ABM Treaty were killed, then "Brilliant Pebbles" or some other system could be pulled out of the drawer, dusted off, and contracted out to every congressional district to keep the money coming.

Many missile defense adherents are quite open about their determination to kill the ABM Treaty, and frustrated because Congress lacks the Constitutional authority to do that. Some fall back on strained legal theories to argue that the break-up of the Soviet Union left the ABM Treaty null and void -- while hoping that nobody will apply that reasoning to other U.S.-Soviet treaties.

At other times, missile defense adherents press to deploy a ballistic missile defense regardless of whether this requires violation or abrogation of the ABM Treaty. That is what this bill would do.

If we enact S. 257 and make it U.S. policy to deploy an ABM system without addressing Russian concerns and U.S. treaty obligations, then Russia will almost certainly use its thousands of ICBM warheads to maintain its nuclear deterrence posture.

That would end strategic arms control. It would also sacrifice our long-standing goal -- ever since the Reagan Administration -- of removing the greatest threat to strategic stability: land-based, MIRVed ICBM's.

MIRVed ICBM's -- with Multiple, Independently-targeted Re-entry Vehicles -- are the cheapest way for Russia to overwhelm a missile defense. But they also put nuclear Armageddon just a hair-trigger away, because a missile with 3, or 7, or 10 warheads is a truly tempting target for a first strike by the other side.

In a crisis, a Russia that relies upon MIRVed ICBM's may feel it has to "use them or lose them." That's why President Bush signed START Two to ban those missiles.

Today, maintaining the START momentum is a real national security challenge. The Russian Duma has balked at ratifying START Two, largely because Russia cannot afford to replace its MIRVed ICBM's with enough new, single-warhead missiles to maintain the force levels permitted by the treaty.

But major force reductions under START Three, to reduce nuclear forces to a level that Russia can hope to maintain, could get the Russian Duma to permit Russia to give up MIRVed ICBMs.

Serious legislation would call for lower START Three levels than those proposed at the Helsinki summit in 1997. The bill before us, by contrast, would put the final nail in the coffin of START Two.

That is because Russia truly doubts that it can do without MIRVed ICBM's if the United States deploys a national missile defense. Now, U.S. officials are explaining to Russian leaders how a limited missile defense could defend America without threatening Russia or the basic goals of the ABM Treaty.

The Administration thinks there is a reasonable chance of bringing Russia around. But that will take time. Our bill will endorse that process of education and negotiation.

Passage of S. 257, by contrast, risks torpedoing those important U.S.-Russian talks. This bill will very likely be seen by Russia as a slap in the face. And it's hard to blame them, when the litmus-testers set up a vote just a few days before Russia's Prime Minister is due here for talks with Vice President Gore.

If my colleagues want a limited national missile defense without sacrificing the ABM Treaty, we can get that. If, however, their real aim is to kill the ABM Treaty and strategic arms control, then they are making a tragic mistake.

S. 257, which ignores our treaty obligations, could force us to abrogate the ABM Treaty. Enactment of this bill would thus practically guarantee that the START process would collapse, leaving us facing MIRVed Russian ICBM's for decades to come.

One of the fascinating questions in the missile defense debate is why missile defense adherents are so willing to sacrifice the START process. The answers tell us a lot about isolationist ideology and the politics of paranoia.

Isolationists in the Senate -- mostly Republicans -- have a long history of opposing international obligations. Henry Cabot Lodge opposed the League of Nations after World War I. Republicans opposed Franklin Delano Roosevelt's preparations for World War II, and some continued to accuse him of "getting us into" that war for another 20 years, as though America would have been better off accepting a Nazi Europe. And some Republicans opposed the United Nations in the post-World War II world.

Conservative Republicans have opposed arms control treaties as well, from the Limited Test Ban Treaty of 1963 to the SALT Treaty of 1972, the Threshold Test Ban Treaty of 1974, the START Treaties of 1991 and 1993, and the Chemical Weapons Convention of 1993. Today they oppose the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and call for an end to the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty of 1972.

Imagine their frustration, then, with the tendency of Republican Presidents to negotiate and sign arms control treaties. Dwight Eisenhower's pursuit of a test-ban treaty was the first betrayal, even though it was John F. Kennedy who finally signed the Limited Test Ban Treaty.

Richard Nixon was truly a turncoat, to many Republicans. Aside from recognizing Communist China, Nixon signed both the ABM Treaty and the SALT Treaty with the Soviet Union. The Soviets promptly used a loophole in SALT to deploy the MIRVed SS-19 ICBM, which the Senate had thought would be illegal under the treaty. Republican anger was hardly lessened when it came to light that the Soviets had told U.S. officials of their plans, and that the word had not been passed to the Senate.

I think that the conservative Republican anger at Henry Kissinger -- which continues to this day -- is due to his willingness to pursue arms control with the Soviet Union and better relations with China, even as the United States bombed their ships in Haiphong harbor. Nixon and Kissinger pursued the Vietnam War far beyond the point of diminishing returns, and they supported right-wing regimes from Greece to Chile and Guatemala. But their subtle power politics rejected isolationist ideology, and true-blue conservatives never forgave them.

Gerald Ford was hardly better, as he signed the Threshold Test Ban Treaty.

Ronald Reagan could never be seen as a traitor to the right wing. He brought it into the White House and brought Republicans to power in the Senate. He opposed SALT Two and breached the limits of that signed-but-unratified treaty. He also brought back the missile defense issue, with his Strategic Defense Initiative -- better known as "Star Wars," as much for its overreaching ambition as for its space-based architecture.

Even Ronald Reagan puzzled many right-wingers, however, when he came out against nuclear weapons and proposed sharing Star Wars technology with the Soviets. Puzzlement turned to frustration in the Bush Administration, as some Reagan proposals were actually accepted by the Soviet Union and its successors: especially the Intermediate Nuclear Forces agreement, the START Treaties, and the Chemical Weapons Convention.

The Clinton Administration has achieved ratification of START Two and the Chemical Weapons Convention, but perhaps only because former Republican officials worked with Democrats to complete President Bush's legacy. The real political problem with the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty is that it was a Democratic president who signed it.

The truth is that conservative Republicans are still uncomfortable with the whole concept of arms control. They see arms control treaties as either hamstringing the United States or defrauding the world by merely codifying what the two sides would have done unilaterally.

Against this background, it is not so surprising that Republicans are willing to sacrifice the START process in order to kill the ABM Treaty. Conservatives were not very pleased to be signing arms control treaties in the first place. To them, the end of the Cold War is a time to rid ourselves of those "foreign entanglements," to use President Washington's famous phrase.

As a Democrat, I must admit to being perplexed by some of this behavior. You might expect that conservatives would appreciate the virtues of "law and order" in the field of strategic weapons, just as they preach it at home.

Certainly professional military officers appreciate the virtue of predictability that enables them to prepare more rationally for any future conflict. As a result, the military nearly always supports ratification of arms control treaties, again to the great frustration of conservative Republicans. The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty is just the latest example, as every Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff since General David Jones from the Reagan Administration supports ratification, while conservative Republicans in the Senate vow to keep that treaty from coming to a vote.

Perhaps the real clash here is between ideology and reality. Conservative Republicans idolize self-reliance, both in the individual and in the state.

The Great Depression of 60 years ago and the interdependent world economy of today have made rugged individualism an insufficient guideline in economic and social policy. Two world wars and the threat of annihilation posed by weapons of mass destruction have done the same thing in our international relations.

The American people understand this and vote consistently against those who would sacrifice national or international consensus for the sake of left-wing or right-wing ideologies.

But the dream of unfettered individualism lives on. For some, it is the dream of resuming nuclear weapons tests, even though the price of that would be permitting similar tests by increasing numbers of other countries. For others, it is the dream of fighting the next war in the so-called "high frontier" of outer space. And for still others, it is the dream of a shield against enemy missiles -- perhaps a U.S. shield against our enemies or, in some versions, a U.S.-Russian shield against the rest of the world.

To these dreamers, the bill before us is but a first step. A "thin" national missile defense will lead to "thicker" defenses. Demise of the ABM Treaty and strategic arms control will merely usher in an age of unfettered nuclear dominion, as the United States builds an eventually impregnable, space-based defense from missiles of all sorts.

This is only a dream. But it is a dream that energizes the right wing. And it is a dream that has become a litmus test for Republicans in this body.

That is truly a shame. For rational policy must be built on reality, not on dreams.

Mr. President, the threat of a missile attack on the United States is real; it is disturbing. But the true test of statecraft is not how angry you get, but how rationally you deal with threats to the national interest.

A rational development and deployment of a limited national missile defense does not require us to ignore our ABM Treaty obligations. Only fear and politics drive missile defense adherents to take such a risk in the bill before us.

My generation understands both that fear and the dream of a ballistic missile defense. Anyone who has ducked under his desk in a school "air raid" drill knows the collective sense of vulnerability and futility caused by the thought of a nuclear holocaust. We have spent well over a hundred billion dollars on efforts to ease that sense of helplessness through civil defense or missile defense.

But the role of this Senate, for over two centuries, has been to resist those savage fears and passionate dreams that would otherwise take us down dangerous paths.

America needs a balanced strategy, to meet the rogue-state missile threat while also preserving the ABM Treaty, continuing the START process, using non-proliferation assistance to combat "loose nukes" in Russia, and achieving entry into force of the Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty.

That is what I hope Senator Kerrey, Senator Levin and I will propose in the "National Security Policy Act of 1999." It is a far cry from the bumper-sticker bill currently before us.

Let me make a special appeal to those Republican members with whom we Democrats make common cause to support threat reduction programs in the former Soviet Union. Some of those programs, like the Nunn-Lugar program, further the START process by underwriting the destruction of former Soviet weapons.

Others guard against proliferation by safeguarding or downgrading special nuclear material and by improving export and border controls to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Still others help weapons scientists and technicians to find non-military employment, so they will not have to consider contracts with rogue states for their dangerous goods or services.

Economic collapse and resurgent nationalism may be closing Russia's window to the West. But these programs help to keep that window open. The Clinton Administration has seen the risks and opportunities that are inherent in Russia's economic plight: the risk of rogue-state recruitment has increased, but so has the buying power of every dollar and Deutschmark that we and our allies can devote to threat reduction and non-proliferation assistance.

The Expanded Threat Reduction Initiative announced last month deserves our support, and I am confident that it will gain that support. I believe that we should do even more, including financing retired officer housing in return for Russian withdrawal of troops from Moldova and Georgia.

We should also consider more programs that employ former weapons experts in non-military pursuits, even if their activities are not likely to result in commercially viable ventures. Eventually the Russian economy will turn around and provide new careers for the talented experts from the Soviet Union's nuclear, chemical weapons, biological weapons, and long-range missile programs. Until that happens, however, it is clearly in our national interest to keep that talent off the international market.

Democrats will support our moderate Republican friends on these issues, and I believe that Republicans will support our similar efforts in return. But my moderate Republican friends should not deceive themselves: these programs will not survive if right-wing policies on national missile defense bring down the ABM Treaty and the START process.

Russian pride is already damaged by its shattered power and by the need to accept our money. If a precipitous decision to deploy missile defense leads Russia to preserve its MIRVed ICBM's, Cooperative Threat Reduction will be ended. Once that goes, I predict that Russian cooperation on non-proliferation will go as well.

Then our nuclear and chemical and biological weapon fears will expand from the fear of missile warheads to the fear of every ship or plane or truck that approaches our borders. And the far-sighted legacy of Sam Nunn and his concerned co-sponsors will have been but a blissful rest stop on the highway to destruction.

If reason can overcome fear, perhaps reason can also overcome the politics behind S. 257. If Republicans have the courage and foresight to pursue their goal of a limited national missile defense while preserving arms control and strategic stability, I urge them to withdraw S. 257 and talk to us.

Otherwise, I urge all my colleagues to reject this bill and avert the substantial peril that it risks to our national security.

I hope the amendment of my friend from Louisiana prevails because, although she may not mean it this way, I read it to say arms reduction is still vitally important. Arms reductions are critical and, I would argue, are not capable of being conducted with any efficacy in the absence of an ABM Treaty.

I thank my colleague for allowing me to speak, my colleague from Louisiana who is about to introduce her amendment. I also thank my friend from Mississippi, who is a consummate gentleman for following and listening to what I have to say.

I yield the floor.