You are hereDIR-1990-05-14


Doc Type: 
Burt, Richard
Full Title: 
NSDD 40 - Decisions on START Issues
Language Type: 

The language in this SECRET five-page Directive signed by President Bush takes the reader back to the intricacies of Cold War arms control negotiations between the superpowers, with a profusion of acronyms, subceilings, devilish details, and not-so-hidden agendas. The story behind the very first item on the list, the non-nuclear air-launched cruise missile Tacit Rainbow, reveals the real reason why it took so long to complete the START treaty (it wouldn’t be signed until July 1991). Tacit Rainbow, at the time of this Directive still in development and not yet in production, was intended to be a jet-powered mini-drone that could hover over enemy targets (assuming massive air attacks were on their way), wait for enemy radar to light up, then destroy those air-defense radars. This system would be cancelled in 1991 before even entering production in part because of cost overruns and also because of audit findings that decoys would be more effective against ground radars. Yet the hard line taken by U.S. START negotiators attempting to leave open this kind of U.S. option for developing non-nuclear cruise missiles added years of delay on overall cuts in strategic weapons. Likewise, the language on submarine-launched cruise missiles – allowing 875-1000 of them to be deployed without any on-board verification procedures – was more the product of U.S. military service rivalries for new weapons systems than any real assessment of U.S. national security. After all, many more U.S. cities were on the coasts and thus vulnerable to Soviet SLCMs than were Soviet cities vulnerable to U.S. SLCMs – a zero option would have made the U.S. more secure.