President Bush has directed the Pentagon to begin fielding an initial set of missile defense capabilities by the end of 2004.
Despite Bush's more than 100% increase in funding for missile defense, the resulting multilayered system is no more workable than previous systems.
The current administration's push to deploy a missile defense system, coupled with its aggressive nuclear policy, could halt progress toward nuclear arms reductions.
Under President Clinton, it became U.S. policy to deploy a National Missile Defense (NMD) system "as soon as technologically feasible." However, Clinton's commitment to missile defense was tempered by his pledge to base a deployment decision on four criteria: the overall cost of the program, its technical feasibility, an assessment of the ballistic missile threat facing the United States, and the impact that NMD might have on arms control and arms reduction efforts. In contrast, President Bush has set no criteria to constrain deployment.
Citing a critical test failure in July 2000 and a growing chorus of criticisms, Clinton felt safe in delaying deployment of the proposed missile defense system. In September 2000 he said, "I simply cannot conclude with the information I have today that we have enough confidence in the technology, and the operational effectiveness of the entire NMD system, to move forward to...