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Wednesday, 12 December, 2001, 15:34 GMT
ABM Treaty explained
President George W Bush on the phone with Russian President Vladimir Putin
President Bush insists missile defence will go ahead
With the US withdrawing from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, BBC News Online examines the aims of that agreement.

The Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty is a landmark agreement between the US and the former Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War.

It was signed in Moscow on 26 May 1972 by then US President Richard Nixon and Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev.

Following the 1991 dissolution of the Soviet Union, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia and Ukraine ratified the treaty and took on its obligations.
Protest against George Bush in Europe
Both the public and political leaders are concerned

A signatory nation must give six months notice to propose amendments to the treaty or to withdraw from it, should they decide that national security is at stake.

The main purpose of the ABM was to constrain the parties from deploying nationwide defences against strategic ballistic missiles.

The treaty permits each side to have one limited ABM system to protect its capital and another to protect an intercontinental ballistic missile launch area.

The two sites must be at least 1,300km (812 miles) apart to prevent the creation of any effective regional defence zone or the beginnings of a nationwide system.

Precise quantitative and qualitative limits are imposed on the ABM systems that may be deployed.

At each site there may be no more than 100 interceptor missiles and 100 launchers.

Furthermore, it prohibits the development, testing and deployment of sea-based, air-based, space-based and mobile land-based ABM systems regardless of the technology used.

Changes

At the Reykjavik summit of 11 October 1986, President Ronald Reagan and General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev agreed a 50% reduction of strategic offensive forces over five years.

They committed each other to eliminate by 1996 all their arsenals of offensive ballistic missiles.

Throughout its existence, the ABM has been cited by interested parties as either the cornerstone of security or a cumbersome piece of paper - depending on the interests of the day.

After their meeting in Washington in September 1994 Presidents Bill Clinton and Boris Yeltsin declared their full support for the ABM whilst noting an interest in co-operating in developing and fielding a "theatre missile defence system".

However, this co-operation did not materialise and President Clinton considered the idea of a national missile defence system (NMD) - dropping it later as being incompatible with the ABM.

When his successor, George W Bush, came to power early this year, he resurrected the NMD idea and indicated he would unilaterally abandon the ABM if no agreement was reached with Russia.

US Missile Defence

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12 Jul 01 | Americas
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