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The SDI 'Quick Fix' Is Fading Fast - The Scientist - Magazine of the Life Sciences

The SDI 'Quick Fix' Is Fading Fast - The Scientist - Magazine of the Life Sciences

Abstract

Now, more than four years after President Reagan challenged American scientists “to give us the means of rendering.. nuclear weapons obsolete,” the technological optimism and political currency behind his Strategic Defense Initiative have peaked. Fair-minded studies by respected scientific experts provide sobering evidence that SDI’s reach exceeds its grasp. Many members of Congress are aware of SDI’s declining technical credibility, -increasingly unwilling to support SDI at levels requested, and upset about the administration’s reinterpretation of the 1972 Antiballistic Missile Treaty. Congress has deeply cut recent requests for SDI funding. The FY 1987 request of $4.8 billion was cut to $3.5 billion, and the FY 1988 request of $5.4 billion will likely be cut to $3.9 billion or less. In the last year, hopes for rapid development of the full range of SDI programs have suffered several staggering body blows. A study by the American Physical Society addressed the directed energy or laser and beam weapons part of the SDI concept [see THE SCIENTIST, May 18, 1987, p. 11]. A soon-to-be-released report of the congressional Office of Technology Assessment should provide valuable additional insight not only into realistic developmental time-tables of the more exotic SDI technologies, but also into
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