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Does more missiles = more button pushers?
CIA Fears Missile Shield Will Spur Buildup By China
Washington (AFP) May 19, 2000 - US intelligence is preparing a secret report warning that deployment of a national missile defense would spur a missile buildup by China, India and Pakistan and lead to the spread of missile technology in the Middle East, the Los Angeles Times said Friday.

A US intelligence official, taking no issue with the Times report, confirmed that the intelligence community is working on a national intelligence estimate on foreign reaction to NMD deployment.

"It's not done, it's still being worked, so I can't comment on the conclusion," the official told AFP.

President Bill Clinton is supposed to decide this fall whether to deploy the first phase of the system, consisting of 100 Alaska-based interceptors linked to a phased array radar and early warning satellites.

The United States argues that the system is not aimed at Russia or China, but at stopping an attack by several tens of missiles fired from North Korea or Iran.

The anti-missile system has come under mounting fire from critics on the outside, but the Times report citing an unidentified intelligence official was the first blast against the proposed deployment from within the administration's national security apparatus.

The report said CIA analysts have concluded that Moscow would accept US arguments that Russia's nuclear deterrent could overwhelm the proposed national missile defense system.

But they believe Beijing, which has only 20 intercontinental missiles in vulnerable silos, would conclude that it had lost its deterrent and would act accordingly, the Times said.

"We can tell the Russians that (the missile defense) won't affect the viability of their deterrent force," a US intelligence official was quoted as saying. "I don't know how we can say that to the Chinese with a straight face."

If the US deploys a missile defense, the CIA believes China will deploy multiple warheads on its missiles for the first time to overwhelm the anti-missile shield, the Times said. Although it has had the technology to do so for five years, it hasn't used it as yet.

China also is likely to build several dozen mobile truck-based DF-31 missiles, which it first tested last year, and add countermeasures to foil or evade US defenses, according to the CIA analysts.

Russia and China also are considered likely to increase proliferation, "selling countermeasures for sure" to countries like North Korea, Iran, Iraq and Syria, the Times quoted the intelligence official as saying.

At the same time, India is deemed likely to increase its nuclear missile force if it detects a sharp buildup by China, and that in turn would likely prompt Pakistan to enlarge its strike force, the Times report said.

A supplement to the intelligence estimate, meanwhile, will note that the missile threat from North Korea has eased since last fall when it froze testing of its long-range Taepo-dong missile, the report said.

CIA analysts, who last year warned that Iran could test an intercontinental missile by 2010, have seen little progress since, the Times said. "We're not seeing the threat advance," the intelligence official was quoted as saying.

Copyright 2000 AFP. All rights reserved. The material on this page is provided by AFP and may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Key Missile Test Delayed
Washington (AFP) May 18, 2000 - A crucial test of the National Missile Defense system has been delayed until early July because of a minor problem in the interceptor that has now been fixed, the Pentagon said Thursday.

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