Letter to the Editor New York Times

              Letter to the Editor of THE NEW YORK TIMES (as sent)
                               Richard L. Garwin
                                  P.O. Box 218
                        Yorktown Heights, NY  10598-0218
                                 (914) 945-2555
                              FAX: (914) 945-4419
                        INTERNET: RLG2 at watson.ibm.com

                                                                   March 4, 1997
                                           (Via Email to letters at nytimes.com)

The Editor, Editorial Page
The New York Times
___ ___ ____ _____
229 West 43rd Street
New York, NY  10036

Dear Editor:

  ** About 361 words **
U.S. Army Kinetic Energy  Anti-satellite  Program  but  misses  the  key  point:
antisatellite weapons in the hands of others are a mind-boggling problem for the
United States, and our own ani-satellite weapons are no solution.

>From  long  involvement  in  U.S.  military  satellite and anti-satellite (ASAT)
programs, I judge a world of all-too-feasible ASAT capability as  one  in  which
the U.S.  stands to lose far more than it gains, in view of our fragile, billion
dollar  satellites  in  low Earth orbit.  Our national security depends on these
satellites, which cruise the whole world and  are  vulnerable  to  weapons  that
could  be  fielded by many nations.  We are the country deriving most value from
satellites; our interests lie in leading the  world  in  banning  anti-satellite
weapons, not in building them.

One  of the great achievements of Presidents beginning with Eisenhower is the de
facto acceptance of the satellite observation that has been absolutely vital  to
U.S.  security,  beginning,  paradoxically, with the Soviet Sputnik in 1957, and
practiced by the 145 Top Secret CORONA photographic satellites operated  by  the
U.S.  from  1960  to  1972.   The millions of feet of photographs and the system
details of CORONA were released by the Government in 1995.

We have means of countering unfriendly satellites other than their  destruction,
but the contest of ASAT vs. valuable satellite is inherently unequal and greatly
to  the disadvantage of the satellite.  In 1983 I presented to the U.S. Congress
a draft Treaty Limiting Anti-Satellite Weapons.   This Treaty  would  ban  space
weapons  and  antisatellite  tests,  recognizing the difficulty of verifying the
absence of ASAT development.

Admiral Noel Gayler (ret.) testified with me  in  support  of  the  Treaty,
after  initially  favoring  an  ASAT capability in order to protect a naval task
force  against  observation  and  targeting  by  Soviet   ocean   reconnaissance
satellites.    Rather  than  moving ahead with space weaponry and ASAT, the U.S.
should urgently initiate negotiations for a modern treaty banning space  weapons
and  anti-satellite  tests in space.  Such a treaty would provide protection for
satellites and a basis for actions taken in response to destruction  of  one  of
our vital assets.

Sincerely yours,

Richard L. Garwin

The author received the 1996 R.V. Jones
Intelligence Award of the U.S. Government
National Foreign Intelligence Community.