Critics claim Pentagon rigged anti-missile shield tests
Washington (AFP) June 9, 2000 - Critics of the proposed anti-missile defense system said the Pentagon rigged all flight tests to hide a flaw that makes it unable to distinguish between enemy warheads and decoys, The New York Times said Friday.
The system, the development of which is still pending a decision by US President Bill Clinton, failed to make the crucial distinction in its first two flight tests against mock targets, prompting the Pentagon to rig two other tests, the critics said in interviews with the daily.
The mock targets were substituted by simpler and fewer decoys that would be easier for the antimissile system to recognize, they said.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) arms expert Theodore Postol obtained the Pentagon plan covering the four tests, which other experts including a senior government official agreed they were rigged.
"It is clear to me that none of the tests address the reasonable range of countermeasures," or decoys that an enemy warhead would use to confuse an antimissile weapon, said the official who asked the daily not to be identified.
Pentagon officials acknowledged that the plan obtained by the MIT expert was authentic, but defended the testing system.
Lieutenant Ronald Kadish of the Air Force, director of the Pentagon's Ballistic Missile Defense Organization denied that his program had engaged in any deception or dumbing down, the daily said.
Postol made his argument at a meeting of the US State Department's advisory board on arms control, the daily said.
Pentagon officials, he said in an interview with the daily, "are systematically lying about the performance of a weapon system that is supposed to defend the people of the United States from nuclear attack."
The anti-missile defense system is meant to protect from nuclear attacks by rogue nuclear powers such as Iraq and North Korea. It is criticized by Russia and has drawn Chinese warnings that its deployment could trigger an arms race in space.