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Evaluating Missile Defense

Evaluating Missile DefenseWhile the Cold War is over, a Tufts foreign policy expert says missile threats against the U.S. are very real.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [03.28.01] Since taking office in January President George Bush has made a national missile defense program a key piece of his foreign policy agenda.

While former Cold War enemies, including Russia, aren't likely to attack the United States, a Tufts foreign policy expert says a new group of countries around the world may pose a threat.

"There are a large number of countries around the world who could -- in the next five to 10 years -- be targeting missiles against Europe, the U.S. or Japan," Tufts' Robert Pfaltzgraff told The Connection -- a national radio news program.

The Fletcher School professor said countries including Iran, Iraq, Libya and possibly North Korea have the ability to build long-range missiles with the technology available to them.

"This includes -- in the case of Iran -- a series of technologies that have the potential, and in fact are, giving increased range to missiles that could strike with nuclear warheads or chemical and biological warheads, or simply conventional warheads," he said.

Pfaltzgraff said Bush's missile defense program may give the U.S. more options to protect itself from a missile attack.

The program would enable the U.S. "to respond with a strike against the [incoming] missile itself, not against the country [that launched it]," Pfaltzgraff told the Connection's listeners in 29 cities.

But the Tufts professor said the "missile shield" has a long way to go before it's working effectively.

"Many technical issues need to be addressed," he said.

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