President George W. Bush announced on December 13 that the United States would unilaterally withdraw from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has opposed scrapping the treaty, which he said Russia would have been willing to amend to accommodate U.S. missile defense testing. Moscow has warned it may pull out of other arms control agreements in response to the U.S. withdrawal. Congressional leaders and key U.S. allies have also questioned the wisdom of abandoning the treaty and the value of rushing ahead with unproven national missile defenses.
This special section contains three commentaries—Russia’s Strategic Priorities by Celeste A. Wallander, Can China’s Tolerance Last? by Bates Gill, and Withdrawal Is Premature by Charles Peña and Ivan Eland—examining the rationale for the U.S. withdrawal and the Russian and Chinese reactions to the decision. The section also includes a transcript of an Arms Control Association press conference on the U.S. withdrawal as well as the text of President Bush’s announcement and the U.S. diplomatic notes on the matter to Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine. See Bush Announces U.S. Intent to Withdraw From ABM Treaty for news coverage.