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Public Papers - 1991 - March

Statement on the Strategic Defense Initiative

1991-03-22

Eight years ago, the Strategic Defense Initiative spurred research and development of technologies necessary to defend the United States and our allies from the threat posed by ballistic missiles. Since 1983, SDI has accomplished much. Technological and engineering breakthroughs have brought us closer to smart or even brilliant defenses. We have proved that it is possible to intercept a ballistic missile warhead in space. But much work remains to be done before we have the defenses we need.

Even as we are hopeful that we can achieve a more stable strategic balance with the Soviet Union, the threat from ballistic missile proliferation is growing. Today, U.S. forces abroad and U.S. allies live under a growing threat from ballistic missile attack. While the Patriot air defense system performed remarkably well, we can do far better in protecting our troops and our friends and allies. We will have to, because we will face much more dangerous threats than the Scud. Moreover, the decisions we make on SDI today will affect our capabilities into the next century. By then, the United States itself may also face a greater threat from ballistic missiles.

The primary limit to our ability to develop the technology necessary for ballistic missile defense is our commitment to do so. The pace of our research has been limited not by technological difficulties but by Congress' unwillingness to fund SDI adequately. I have listened to the concerns of congressional leaders and taken into account the changing strategic environment. As a result, I have refocused SDI's priorities to provide protection against limited ballistic missile strikes. Now it is up to Congress to respond by supporting my request for SDI funding.

Ballistic missile defenses threaten no one. Not only can they help preserve the peace but, as we have seen, they can save lives. Our troops and allies in the Middle East have already benefited from them. America deserves no less.

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