Recent Months in Review
- ASAT-Last December the U.S. Congress gave the world a surprise Christmas present: the first significant mutual constraint on the superpower arms race since SALT II. In a fiscal year 1986 catchall spending bill, Congress mandated a ban on the testing of an antisatellite weapon (ASAT) against objects in space. Unless Moscow abandons its ASAT moratorium or Congress passes new legislation to undo the U.S. ban, there will be, in effect, an ASAT freeze. But the Pentagon, wanting to test a means of attacking low-orbit satellites, believes it has a found a way around the ban: It would have its weapon home in on the heat generated by a star rather than by a man-made object. Fortunately, such a test would not be similar enough to targeting a satellite that testing sufficient to give the U.S. Air Force confidence in the weapon is highly unlikely.
- Star Wars-In January John Gardner, Assistant Director for Systems, made an important observation. In effect he said that the Russians are right: Star Wars does not have as its sole objective the creation of a protective shield. The program is also trying, he said, "to put [the United States] in a position so that we can fairly significantly change our strategic military strategy."
- Well over half of U.S. physicists receiving defence department funding think Reagan's proposed Star Wars system is unworkable, according to a survey released on the third anniversary of Reagan's Star Wars speech.
- Gorbachev Plan-January: General Secretary Gorbachev proposed complete nuclear disarmament by the year 2000. As a first step toward this goal, both the U.S. and the USSR would reduce their strategic launchers (any planes or missiles that could strike the other's territory) by half, to reach a balance of 6000 warheads on each side. This would be possible only with an agreement renouncing the development, testing and deployment of "Star Wars."
- Canada and Star Wars-Jan. 29