Markey NDAA Amendment Would Maintain Existing Restraints on Deployment of U.S. Missile Defenses

Washington (June 7, 2016) – As the U.S. Senate this week debates the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) has introduced an amendment that would ensure the United States doesn’t replace a long-standing policy of limited missile defense with one meant to target Russia and China. The 1999 Missile Defense Act consists of a policy statement that the U.S. will pursue a missile defense against “limited ballistic missile attack.” The word “limited” is meant to keep this system aimed at nations such as Iran and North Korea. During a recent Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) included a provision in this year’s NDAA that would strike the word “limited.” The change in language would lay the basis for an expanded missile defense system that would directly threaten Russia and China’s deterrent, undermining strategic stability and creating the impetus for a new arms race in defensive and offensive weapons. Senator Markey’s amendment strikes that provision, thus keeping the word “limited.”

“Constructing missile defenses aimed at Russia or China would be self-defeating and destabilizing,” said Senator Markey. “It could cause Russia and China to fear that the United States could carry out a preventive nuclear attack on their homelands, resulting in a new, dangerous nuclear competition. We should not begin a cycle of re-armament by replacing our policy of limited missile defense with one meant to target Russia and China. This reckless provision will set us on the path to wasting enormous amounts of money, while exposing Americans to danger.”

A copy of the amendment can be found HERE.


In 1999, Congress passed the Missile Defense Act, which stated that it was U.S. policy to deploy a national missile defense system “capable of defending the territory of the United States against limited ballistic missile attack.” The inclusion of the word “limited” was meant to protect our territory against attacks by countries such as Iran and North Korea, without threatening Russia or China’s nuclear deterrents. As the bipartisan Perry-Schlesinger Commission on America’s Strategic Posture stated with respect to missile defenses, “The United States should ensure that its actions do not lead Russia or China to take actions that increase the threat to the United States and its allies and friends.”