The Day the Earth Didn’t Stand Still

Ten years ago today, June 13, 2002, the United States’ withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty took effect. Abrogating the 1972 arms control pact had been a foreign policy goal of the Bush Administration after it took power in January 2001. The Bush White House wanted the United States to be unconstrained in developing and deploying missile defenses, including a shield to protect the US homeland from ballistic missiles emanating from North Korea and the Middle East. Per the treaty’s withdrawal clause, the Bush Administration on Dec. 13, 2001, gave Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine six-month notice of the United States’ intent to leave. The Clinton Administration had tried in vain to negotiate amendments to the treaty with Russia so that the United States would have been able to field a limited National Missile Defense system while maintaining the treaty regime. On Wednesday, the Heritage Foundation, no friend of the ABM Treaty during its time in effect, hosts an event to mark the 10-year anniversary, featuring several former senior Bush Administration officials who were instrumental in formulating Bush’s missile defense policy. (Feeling nostalgic? Here’s the ABM Treaty text from the State Department’s website.)