Air Defense: November 24, 1999


The battle continues between the US and the Axis Powers (German and Italy) over the new Medium Extended-range Air Defense System. The Patriot-3 missile includes several "black boxes with anti-tamper devices" which house US technology so secret that the Pentagon refuses to share it with NATO allies. If the allies (or an enemy spy) try to open the boxes, the contents will be destroyed. Both Germany and Italy have refused to accept the boxes or to remain part of the MEADS air defense system (for which they provide much of the funding) if the US does not hand over all of the technology involved. The US says it has reduced the number of secret boxes but cannot and will not eliminate them because it cannot guarantee that foreign spies cannot penetrate the German and Italian military.--Stephen V Cole

Ukraine is considering a plan to build a national missile defense system, even though doing so would violate its pledge to uphold the 1972 ABM Treaty. Such a move would outrage Moscow, not least because it would weaken claims that the 1972 ABM Treaty, signed by the USSR, is still binding on the US despite the fact that the USSR no longer exists. The Clinton Administration agreed informally to regard Russia as the successor to the USSR so long as other ex-Soviet states respected the treaty.--Stephen V Cole 


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