Clarifying ABM Treaty Ambiguities: Threshold Limits

  • John E. Pike
Part of the Studies in Disarmament and Conflicts book series (SDC)


New developments in ballistic missile defence (BMD) technology pose major challenges to the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty of 1972. There is a growing need to find a way to keep the ABM Treaty current with the evolution of BMD technology. While the ABM Treaty is of indefinite duration, it needs and deserves periodic updating. Over the past two years discussion has focused on the debate over the Reagan Administration’s broad interpretation of the ABM Treaty, which holds that the Treaty does not limit the testing of exotic BMD technologies, such as lasers. But this is now a false issue. It is increasingly clear that this interpretation of the Treaty is without legal or factual merit. Congressional opposition seems likely to ensure that it will not be implemented. In any case, the Administration has had considerable difficulty explaining what additional tests would be conducted should the broad interpretation be implemented. Resolution of the broad interpretation debate does not resolve the inevitable conflict between the permissive and restrictive readings of terms of the traditional interpretation of the ABM Treaty.


Threshold Limit Broad Interpretation Deployment Area Factual Merit Article Versus 
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Copyright information

© Unione Scienzati per il Disarmo Convegno Internazionale 1989

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  • John E. Pike

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