When, this past April, Hezbollah forces in Lebanon launched waves of short-range ballistic missiles (Katyushas) at northern Israel, President Clinton responded by unveiling Nautilus, a high-tech, ground-based laser device that TRW is cobbling together out of American space-laser technology and that will be made available to protect the Galilee region. Only a month earlier, however, when China, in one of the most ominous and underreported developments in the post-Soviet atomic age, openly threatened to hit Los Angeles with a nuclear-tipped missile, no one in our government considered this an occasion to begin treating missile defense for America as an urgent matter.
Yet the threat posed by ballistic missiles has, in fact, never been more urgent. Advancing technology has created numerous classes of weapons fit for a wide variety of military missions, and is placing them in ever more hands around the globe. According to the CIA, 25 countries are or may be acquiring ballistic missiles and/or weapons of mass destruction, whether nuclear, chemical, or biological.
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