Richard L. Garwin

  Philip D. Reed Senior Fellow for Science and Technology
           Council on Foreign Relations, New York


                    IBM Fellow Emeritus
                   IBM Research Division
                        P.O. Box 218
                 Yorktown Heights, NY 10598

                    Tel: (914) 945-2555
                    fax: (914) 945-4419
               Email: RLG2 at

      Testimony to Senate Foreign Relations Committee

                        May 4, 1999

Y123SFRC                 050399SFRC               05/03/99

        Richard L. Garwin was born in Cleveland, Ohio, in
1928.  He is Philip D. Reed Senior Fellow for Science and
Technology at the Council on Foreign Relations, New York,
and Adjunct Professor of Physics at Columbia University.
He has been a Professor of Public Policy at Harvard
University.  He joined IBM Corporation in 1952, and was
until June 1993 IBM Fellow (now IBM Fellow Emeritus) at the
Thomas J. Watson Research Center, Yorktown Heights, New
        He has made contributions in the design of nuclear
weapons, in instruments and electronics for research in
nuclear and low-temperature physics, in computer elements
and systems, including superconducting devices, in
communication systems, in the behavior of solid helium, in
the detection of gravitational radiation, and in military
technology.  He is co-author of many books, among them
Nuclear Weapons and World Politics  (1977), Nuclear Power
Issues and Choices (1977), Ballistic Missile Defense (1984),
and Managing the Plutonium Surplus: Applications and
Technical Options (1994). He has been awarded 42 U.S.
patents and published many technical papers in physics,
technology, and public policy.
        He was a member of the President's Science Advisory
Committee 1962-65 and 1969-72, and of the Defense Science
Board 1966-69. He is a Fellow of the American Physical
Society and of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences;
and a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the
Institute of Medicine, the National Academy of Engineering,
the Council on Foreign Relations, and the American
Philosophical Society.  He was awarded the 1983 Wright Prize
for interdisciplinary scientific  achievement, the 1988 AAAS
Scientific Freedom and Responsibility Award, the 1991 Erice
"Science for Peace" Prize, and from the U.S. Government the
1996 R.V.  Jones Intelligence Award and the 1996 Enrico
Fermi Award. He is a long-time member of Pugwash and has
served on the Pugwash Council.  He has been a member of the
Council of the International Institute for Strategic
Studies, and Chairman of the Panel on Public Affairs of the
American Physical Society.
        His work for the government has included studies on
antisubmarine warfare, new technologies in health care,
sensor systems, military and civil aircraft, and satellite
and strategic systems.  He has chaired the Director's
Advisory Committee of the Arms Control and Disarmament
Agency, and has been a member of the Scientific Advisory
Group to the Joint Strategic Target Planning Staff and in
1998 was on the 9-person "Rumsfeld" Commission to Assess the
Ballistic Missile Threat to the United States.


This Committee knows well the characteristics of the threat
facing the United States, which were reviewed in part by the
Rumsfeld Commission in 1998.  As one of the nine members of
that Commission, I concurred in the unanimous report
published July 15, 1998, which assessed the ballistic
missile threat to the United States.

In brief, we considered both nuclear weapons and biological
weapon payloads as strategic threats.  We noted the
thousands of warheads still available and deliverable by
long-range missile from Russia; the 10 to 20 ICBMs available
to China, armed with nuclear weapons; and the possibility
that any of three additional nations with which the United
States is not on friendly terms-- North Korea, Iran, or
Iraq-- could within five years of a decision to do so have
an ICBM that could strike some of the 50 United States.
This judgment was based on the assumption of a concerted
program, well funded and given priority, with due attention
to denial and deception, as it has been increasingly
practiced by countries that wish to hide the scope of their
activities from U.S. intelligence.

Of course, other nations have much greater capabilities than
these three; for instance, Britain or France could deliver
hundreds of nuclear warheads against the United States, but
we have no fear that they would do so.  With its space
launch vehicle, India could also deliver a nuclear weapon,
and Israel has apparently quite a few nuclear or
thermonuclear weapons, but they are also not classed as
threats to the United States.

The Rumsfeld Commission further noted that short-range
ballistic missiles based on ships and armed with nuclear or
biological payloads would constitute a threat more readily
available than ICBMs to North Korea, Iran, or Iraq; and that
ship-launched cruise missiles available commercially would
add to that threat.  The Rumsfeld Commission did not
consider as a group the vulnerability of the U.S. to BW
attack from ships off shore, from cars or trucks
disseminating BW, from unmanned helicopter crop dusters, or
from smuggled nuclear weapons or nuclear weapons detonated
in a U.S. harbor while still in a shipping container on a
cargo ship; but these capabilities are more easily acquired
and more reliable than are ICBMs.

In January 1999, Secretary of Defense William Cohen
announced that a decision to deploy a National Missile
Defense would be considered in summer of the year 2000,
based on the existence of the threat and the technological
readiness of an NMD system to counter it.  He modified the
Administration's "3 + 3" program which had promised that
within three years (by the year 2000) an NMD would be
developed capable of deployment within the following three
years (2003), so that deployment would now take place in
2005 in case of a favorable decision in summer, 2000.

The "3 + 3" program had intended that development would
continue in the case that deployment was not authorized, so
that year by year what could be deployed within three years
of a decision to do so would be increasingly capable.  A
decision to deploy would need to freeze the technology in
order to build a system within three (or five years).


Rather than recount my view of the history of the NMD
program, let me just give a judgment on the program as it is
now defined.  It is contemplated that to counter a
relatively few warheads, 75 ground-based interceptors (GBI)
would be built, and some 20 deployed.  The system
specifications require extremely high confidence that not a
single warhead penetrate to U.S. soil.  In my opinion, no
system thus far proposed could achieve such confidence, even
against cooperating warheads.

Nevertheless, the problem with the NMD system is not simply
that it could not fulfill its stated requirement, but that
it would have essentially no capability against a long-range
missile system deployed by North Korea, Iraq, or Iran to
strike the United States with biological weapons or with
nuclear weapons.

I make this judgment on the basis of a substantial knowledge
of the NMD system as it is proposed, of previous efforts to
develop a system of missile defense of the nation (and of
Theater Missile Defense), and of a close look over the
decades at countermeasures that are feasible to defeat
missile defenses.

The problem is a simple one.  Begin, for instance, with
North Korea.  If North Korea wished to maximize its
capability to cause death or damage in the United States by
the launch of a first-generation ICBM, it would not use a
so-called unitary payload of BW, which would perhaps deliver
tens or hundreds of kilograms of anthrax or other infectious
or even contagious microbe on some city.  The result would
be a very narrow plume carried by the breeze, which would
kill most of the people in its path, but would leave those
outside the plume untouched, except in the case of extremely
contagious germs such as smallpox.

Rather, a country could make much better use of a limited
payload capacity by packaging the BW agent in the form of
individual bomblets that would weigh a kilogram or so, and
that would be released by the missile just as soon as it had
reached its full velocity on ascent.  That is, just after
boost phase.  The bomblets would fall separately through the
arc of the trajectory to their target, and would reenter the
atmosphere without incident, having been provided with a
thin ablative reentry shield.  After the heat of reentry,
the shield could be shed, as was the case with the reentry
of the film buckets of the first U.S. strategic
reconnaissance system-- CORONA, and the bomblets would fall
to Earth, where a thoroughly tested device would expel the
BW agent.  This could be a mild explosive burster charge or
some other mechanism.

Given this approach to increased military effectiveness, the
planned National Missile Defense system has no possibility
of making an intercept so early in the trajectory.

If the adversary has a nuclear weapon that can be delivered
by ICBM, it can evidently not break it up into 1-kg bomblets
A first-generation nuclear weapon would probably have a
yield of 10 to 20 kilotons (like those U.S. nuclear weapons
that devastated Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945).  So
the NMD system would have a chance to observe the flight--
first the DSP satellites would see the booster flame (as in
the case of BW as well); then the upgraded early warning
radars would see the warhead in mid-course, together with
whatever simple countermeasures might have been used (and
the spent final-stage fuel tank); and X-band radars would
perhaps help to discriminate the real warhead from decoys or
junk.  A sufficient number of ground-based interceptors
would be launched to obtain (in principle) the desired
damage expectancy by their hit-to-kill intercept against the
incoming nuclear warhead.  If the interceptors were based at
Grand Forks, ND, there would in general not be time to
observe the success of an intercept before launching a
second GBI.  If the interceptors were based in Alaska, a
launch from North Korea would provide some time for such
shoot-look-shoot.  To my mind, there is no significant
difference between the protection of the country offered by
interceptors based in Alaska compared with those based in
North Dakota.  Protection would be negligible in either
case.  The reason is that a simple countermeasure would
defeat the system as planned.

Depending on the preferences of the adversary, this
countermeasure could take the form of a large enclosing
balloon around the reentry vehicle that contains the nuclear
warhead.  Immediately after achieving full velocity, the
warhead would separate from the final stage of the missile,
and a simple gas generator containing a few grams of
material (like that in every airbag in modern automobiles)
would gently inflate a metallized plastic balloon that had
been crumpled down onto the warhead by a household vacuum
cleaner exhausting most of the air.  Or inflation could be
done simply by compressed gas.  A warhead that might be five
feet long could be enclosed in a balloon 30 ft in diameter,
so that it would be perfectly well visible to the radars and
to the hit-to-kill homing vehicle of the ground-based
interceptor.  But the homing vehicle which would strike the
balloon (if all goes according to plan) would have very
little probability of striking the warhead contained within.
A thin aluminum coat on the plastic is opaque to radar and
also to infrared invisible light, which are the means by
which the homing kill vehicle (HKV) is expected to strike
its target.

Depending upon the characteristics of an isolated target,
such intercept might take place in principle with an
accuracy of one foot or less, providing high probability of
kill (if the equipment and software is reliable-- which it
is not yet).  But with the aimpoint hidden, the chance of
striking the warhead would be tiny, considering its small
size compared with the enclosing balloon.

One might imagine that the collision of the warhead with the
balloon would generate sufficient gas from the very high
velocity impact of the thin balloon on the interceptor as it
is going by, to blow away most of the remainder of the
balloon and thus to expose the warhead, bare, to the other
interceptors that may follow.  This is a possibility, and
the United States would no doubt wish to test this prospect
(following the best analysis we can do), but unfortunately
for the effectiveness of the defense, this approach is
readily defeated by the offense, without testing in space.
The offense could have several such balloons shrunk down one
over the other, and independently expanded when the
outermost balloon is blown away.

It is not necessary to define the countermeasures that an
adversary nation might use, but only to understand those
that might work.  They could choose among several others.

Another simple countermeasure that might have greater appeal
to some, would be to use not a large balloon but a small
one, not much bigger than the warhead itself.  Then
additional small balloons would serve as decoys, if the HKV
could not tell them apart by means of its multi-spectral
sensor.  More than 30 years ago, the Strategic Military
Panel of the President's Science Advisory Committee, of
which I was a member, observed that an adversary would no
doubt use "anti-simulation" rather than rely strictly on a
decoy's simulating the characteristics of the warhead.

Thus, if the warhead were to be coasting bare through space,
perhaps spinning in a stable fashion, decoys in order to be
credible would need to be pretty much the same size and have
the same spin.  However, with anti-simulation, the idea is
that the warhead would be modified or clothed, so as to make
it easier to simulate.  The warhead would simulate a cheap
decoy, rather than the decoys being required to simulate an
expensive and precise warhead.

An easy way to begin anti-simulation is to put the warhead
in a small lumpy balloon.  This would take care of the radar
simulation quite well.  It might be better also to have a
warhead that is not spun up, as was the case with warheads
of other countries for a long time.  Spinning the warhead
improves the reentry accuracy, because a displacement of the
external reentry vehicle from the center of mass of the
warhead otherwise leads to substantial error.  But the
first-generation ICBMs are so inaccurate that this will not
be a significant impairment of their accuracy.  In any case,
it is entirely possible for a warhead to be spun up just as
it begins to reenter and after all possibility of intercept
by the NMD system has passed.  When to spin is simply a
design choice, and if spinup before reentry helps to
penetrate an NMD system, it can readily be done.

The warhead itself has substantial mass (perhaps
500-1000 lbs.)  and so does not cool appreciably in its
passage through space.  Thin empty balloons, on the other
hand, have no such heat capacity.  Nevertheless, it takes
less than a pound of lithium battery within such a balloon
to supply as much heat radiation to the interior of the
balloon as the warhead itself would provide, if the warhead
were shrouded in commercially available multi-layer
insulation, widely used in refrigerators, transport of
liquid nitrogen, and in space applications.

While the NMD

o   would have no capability against bomblets carrying BW
    dispersed on ascent, or against a nuclear weapon in a
    large enclosing balloon,

o   nor could it discriminate a warhead in a small balloon,
    properly done, from perhaps 10 empty small balloons,

o   would neither see nor be able to intercept short-range
    ballistic missile launched from ships near U.S. shores,

o   would neither see nor be able to intercept short-range
    cruise missiles launched from ships near U.S. shores,

it is possible to protect the United States against the
attack by long-range ballistic missiles.

The beginning of protection lies with deterrence of such
attack, and even deterrence of building such a capability.
Deterrence against use comes from the certainty of nuclear
response to nuclear attack against the United States, and
such a response would be overwhelming.  Deterrence against
building such a capability derives from its lack of utility,
since its use is likely to be deterred by the threat of
retaliation.  Furthermore, a nation deploying an ICBM system
to threaten the United States would surely feel vulnerable
to preemptive attack, if the United States learned where the
missiles were based.

Nevertheless, a limited ICBM capability might be built for
political reasons, despite the insecurity that it would

It is possible to intercept the ICBM in boost-phase-- while
the main rocket engines are still burning, so that the task
of a homing interceptor is far simpler than that posed to
the ground-based interceptor that must see a cool warhead at
great distances in space.  But such a system has essentially
nothing in common with the National Missile Defense that is
proposed.  It would use the existing DSP satellites to
determine the time and rough direction for launch of a
ground or sea-based interceptor.  But the fundamental
characteristic of that interceptor is that it should reach
ICBM velocity of 7 km/s and should do it in about 100 s
rather than the 250 s of a typical ICBM.  Under these
circumstances, there is a vast area in which the interceptor
could be deployed and still make the intercept in boost
phase.  Specifically, against North Korea, such interceptors
could be deployed at a joint U.S.-Russian test range south
of Vladivostok (if Russia wished to cooperate with the
United States in this regard) or, in principle, from
military cargo ships in a vast range of ocean area.

Because such sea-based capabilities might be useful for
defense of Japan, for instance, against theater-range
missiles launched from North Korea, and because there is
already in the September 26, 1997 "Agreement on
Confidence-building Measures Related to Systems to Counter
Ballistic Missiles Other Than Strategic Ballistic Missiles"
(signed but unratified) a provision by which the Parties to
the ABM Treaty of 1972 accept the deployment of ballistic
missile defenses that do not "pose a realistic threat to the
strategic nuclear force of another Party", it is possible
that Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine would agree
specifically to a few large interceptors based on ships to
carry out boost-phase intercept of missiles launched from
North Korea-- which is, after all, not a Party to the ABM


o   We should not deploy the proposed National Missile
    Defense unless it is proved capable of handling the
    countermeasures that can realistically be employed by
    the potential adversary.

o   The evaluation of NMD should start from scratch with the
    use of ground-based or ship-based interceptors that will
    destroy the offensive missiles in boost phase-- before
    they can release bomblets or separate a warhead that
    could then provide itself with an enclosing balloon.

o   There is no reason to abandon the protection of the ABM
    Treaty, that constrains Russian defenses and thus allows
    the United States to deter Russia with modest numbers of
    nuclear weapons, thus facilitating further great
    reductions in the only nuclear threat to the survival of
    the United States.