Ballistic Missile, Missile Defence, and Arms Race: Past, Present, and Future

Key Points:

  • Ballistic missiles and their defences were an important feature of the Cold War arms race between the United States (US) and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR).
  • The development of ballistic missile defences (BMDs) is now fuelling the development of new technologies such as hypersonic weapons, with China as the third player.
  • The US has more role and responsibility in the current arms race, withdrawal from arms control treaties and developing capabilities that have serious implications for the Russian and Chinese nuclear forces.
  • Despite the large sum of money and efforts gone into the development of BMDs in the US, their performance remains controversial.
  • So far, Russia and China have refrained from developing strategic BMDs despite having the capability and know-how.
  • Expansion of BMDs in the US can decrease the support for strategic arms control in Russia and China.
  • In the regional context, India’s development of BMDs and hypersonic weapons pose a serious threat to Pakistan.

Samran Ali

Samran Ali works on nuclear and strategic issues at the Center for International Strategic Studies, Islamabad. He tweets at @samranali6.

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