Evidence, Commentary, and Judgment

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4.4 Strategic Defence Initiative (SDI)

Robert Aldridge in his evidence described SDI as consisting of layered defence systems of interceptor missiles, both nuclear and non nuclear, electromagnetic guns, high energy lasers of various types, neutral subatomic particle beams and sensor systems.

These systems are not seen as defensive by the Soviets, although they are presented to the world at large as such. The Soviets feel that they may negate any concept of deterrence since they could have the ability to intercept some of the Soviet missiles launched against the U.S.

When seen in conjunction with the various other technologically advanced weapons, one could come to the conclusion that a first strike is envisaged, with the SDI systems in the background to deal with any response.

This promotes even greater instability and concern. In times of severe international crisis the Kremlin decision makers would be guided by capacities, noting any pronounced U.S. intentions and would be therefore very predisposed to nuclear retaliation or even pre-emptive first strike.

The Tribunal observes that once one side has nuclear invulnerability it also has a nuclear monopoly and can therefore start and finish a nuclear war with impunity.

Professor Pentz stated that it was unlikely that SDI would ever be effective, but if the other side believed that it was capable of doing what it was designed to do, then it would upset any progress in East-West relations and agreements. If it was marginally effective there would be nothing to stop the other side from adding to its already vast arsenal, in order to preserve a second-strike capability.

The one aspect of SDI that is likely to be achievable is an anti-satellite capability. Satellites are the eyes and ears of the superpowers, as well as being in charge of navigation and control. The stability of world peace presently relies in part upon their remaining intact and not threatened with demolition.

The Tribunal expect that, if pursued, SDI will lead the world into a period of greater instability than the one we have lived through. It may oblige the Soviets to develop such a system within three to five years.

The US legal justification for SDI is derived from a traditional application of the rules of construction to the ABM Treaty 14 and Agreed Statement D annexed to the Treaty. However any testing of nuclear devices would violate the Moscow Test Ban Treaty of 1973. Secrecy over any activities in space or installations (details of all SDI space activities and installations should be placed in the public domain via the United Nations) contravenes the Outer Space Treaty 1967, as would any actual placement of nuclear weapons in space.


14 Treaty on the Limitation of Anti-Ballistic Missile Systems.

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