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Erratic Missiles

The U.S. missile shield program was untenable before we got worrying about the "wobbling, rudimentary warheads" of rogue states. These were cited in official concern about the feasibility of the project.

If the tumbling is problematic—erratic targets are harder to acquire—the problem is not the system's "ability to identify subtle differences between warheads and decoys" (The New York Times, Aug. 27, 2001.) There is no difference.

Oh, it's true that one is a bomb that would destroy a city, blasting people to ashes; while the other is a hollow tin barrel that wouldn't put much of a dent in the sidewalk.

But if there is a possibility of discerning a real from a mock warhead in flight, I have not read its mention.

And it is, after all, impossible.

Outside the range of a Geiger counter — and that cannot be far, because all radiation decreases as a function of the square of distance — the "difference between warheads and decoys" in flight will not be subtle — it will not exist.

— August 27, 2001

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