Cochran, Inouye Introduce Alternative NMD Bill

March 1998

As an indication that the debate on national missile defense (NMD) policy is intensifying, Senators Thad Cochran (R-MS) and Daniel Inouye (D-HI) introduced the "American Missile Protection Act of 1998" on March 19, thereby offering another alternative to the Clinton administration's "3+3" program (see ACT, January/February 1998). The legislation (S.1806) would make it U.S. policy "to deploy as soon as is technologically possible" an NMD system that is capable of defending the United States against limited ballistic missile attack (whether accidental, unauthorized or deliberate). Their proposal differs from the NMD bill introduced last year by Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS), which calls for deployment by the end of 2003, in that it does not mandate a specific deployment date and does not require the United States to consider withdrawing from the ABM Treaty if an amendment is not reached with Russia within one year to permit NMD deployment. Under the Clinton administration's 3+3 plan, the United States seeks to develop the elements of an NMD system by the year 2000 that can then be deployed within another three years if the ballistic missile threat makes it necessary.