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Friday, 7 July, 2000, 09:51 GMT 10:51 UK
Text of scientists' anti-missile letter
The full text of the letter from the Federation of American Scientists to President Clinton urging that the National Missile Defence system be abandoned

Dear Mr President:

We urge you not to make the decision to deploy an anti-ballistic missile system during the remaining months of your administration.

The system would offer little protection and would do grave harm to this nation's core security interests.

We and other independent scientists have long argued that anti-ballistic missile systems, particularly those attempting to intercept re-entry vehicles in space, will inevitably lose in an arms race of improvements to offensive missiles.

North Korea has taken dramatic steps toward reconciliation with South Korea. Other dangerous states will arise. But what would such a state gain by attacking the United States except its own destruction?

While the benefits of the proposed anti-ballistic missile system are dubious, the dangers created by a decision to deploy are clear.

Arms race

It would be difficult to persuade Russia or China that the United States is wasting tens of billions of dollars on an ineffective missile system against small states that are unlikely to launch a missile attack on the US.

The Russians and Chinese must therefore conclude that the presently planned system is a stage in developing a bigger system directed against them.

They may respond by restarting an arms race in ballistic missiles and having missiles in a dangerous "launch-on-warning" mode.

Even if the next planned test of the proposed anti-ballistic missile system works as planned, any movement toward deployment would be premature, wasteful and dangerous.

Respectfully,

Dr Hans Bethe

On behalf of the Federation of American Scientists

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