Strategic Defense Imitative
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Strategic Defense Imitative . Background. In 1979, the Cold War was still raging between the United States and the USSR Both countries had a large number of nuclear missiles United States: 1,600 USSR: 1,500. Ronald Regan’s Visit .

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  • In 1979, the Cold War was still raging between the United States and the USSR

  • Both countries had a large number of nuclear missiles

    • United States: 1,600

    • USSR: 1,500

Ronald regan s visit
Ronald Regan’s Visit

  • In 1979, Ronald Regan visited the NORAD Command center in Cheyenne mountain.

  • The commanding officers showed him the day to day operations and our counter measures for a nuclear attack.

  • Regan realized that from this visit that we didn’t have a way to defend from a nuclear attack.

The speech
The Speech

  • On March 23, 1983 Regan gave his famous “Star Wars” speech

  • In it he called for an increase in defense spending (44 Billion increase)

  • He told the American public about his defense plan in the event of a nuclear attack

Strategic defense initative
Strategic Defense Initative

  • Used three “screens” to defend the country

    • First, use of space stations that fire watermelon sized projectiles to blow up the missiles over Soviet air space

    • Second, lasers would be fired from the ground and redirected by using large mirror like satellites over the Atlantic ocean

    • Lastly, laser equipped planes and surface to air missiles would destroy any remaining missiles over the United States


  • Brilliant Pebbles

    • Name for the weapon that would fire watermelon size bullets from a space craft at the missiles

  • Brilliant Eyes

    • Recognition system that was supposed to be placed in satellite to direct a laser beam.

  • Space Based Interceptors

    • Weapons used thermal imaging to track the nuclear missile and disable it


  • There was wide criticism when Regan proposed this idea

    • Use of ABM missiles

    • Physicist Hans Bethe said that it was would be difficult to build, let alone work

      • Said an easy way to bypass the system would be to just launch decoys that was mixed in with the other nuclear missiles

      • Also use of x-rays would be improbable due to the waves spreading out quickly


  • Offices said that the technology was “years away from being even developed , let alone working.”

  • Regan was even quoted as saying that “it was just a story and many Americans believed that it could be built.”

  • Plan was never fully carried through, due to cost and technological limitations

Violation of treaties
Violation of Treaties

  • Outer Space Treaty of 1967

    • Outlawed the use of nuclear capable weapons and any weapons of mass destruction that was placed in outer space

  • Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty

    • Limited number of ABM to 100 per country

  • Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty

    • Meant to aid in the limitation of nuclear weapons

      • People felt that by creating more missiles and weapons systems, it was just further escalating the arms race

Work cited
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