Chasing gravity's rainbow: Kwajalein and US ballistic missile testing

Author/s (editor/s):

Owen Wilkes, Megan Van Frankv, Peter Hayes

Publication year:

1991

Publication type:

Policy paper

Canberra Papers on Strategy and Defence No. 81

The international regime for controlling the spread of weapons of mass destruction is at a cross-roads. The existing Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty regime is inadequate to the task of controlling ballistic missile development, and these missiles are capable of delivering nuclear, as well as chemical and biological weapons. The superpowers are developing their ballistic missiles qualitatively even as they negotiate cuts in numbers in the START 1 agreement. Export controls on ballistic missile technology have not halted missile proliferation: many small and medium-sized states are developing their own ballistic missiles; space is quickly becoming accessible to many states for military purposes.

This report is the product of phase one of a project conducted by Nautilus Pacific Research, to promote a Ballistic Missile Test Ban Treaty and to support international controls on ballistic missile development. It describes how ballistic missiles are tested, earlier ballistic missile testing in the Pacific area, US facilities for testing ballistic missiles (the USAKA installation on Kwajalein Atoll and the Western Test Range), the organisational links, and the implications for other programs, particularly the Strategic Defence Initiative. Finally, it discusses the various missile test ban proposals.

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