00.2 National Missile Defense System Technical Feasibility and Deployment

Archived Statement

The United States should not make a deployment decision relative to the planned National Missile Defense (NMD) system unless that system is shown -- through analysis and through intercept tests -- to be effective against the types of offensive countermeasures that an attacker could reasonably be expected to deploy with its long-range missiles. The planned NMD system is intended to defend US territory against tens of long-range ballistic missiles carrying biological, chemical or nuclear weapons. The ability of the NMD system to deal with countermeasures is a key factor in determining whether the system will be able to defend against the threats it is intended to meet.

A decision on whether or not to deploy the NMD is scheduled for the next few months. The tests that have been conducted or are planned for the period fall far short of those required to provide confidence in the "technical feasibility" called for in last year's NMD deployment legislation.

This statement implies no APS position with respect to the wisdom of national missile defense deployment and concerns itself solely with its technical viability.


National Intelligence Council, "National Intelligence Estimate (NIE): Foreign Missile Development and the Ballistic Missile Threat to the United States Through 2015," unclassified summary, September 1999, p. 16.

"Director of Operational Test and Evaluation, FY 1999 Annual Report," submitted to Congress February 2000, p. VI-13.

Approved by Board and Council - November 2020 
Adopted by the Council on April 29, 2000
Category: National Policy

APS Statements

APS Statements are public policy statements that undergo a meticulous process of draft and review, including receiving comments from APS members, before being voted on by APS Council at one of its semiannual meetings.