President Obama has signed legislation that, by striking a single word from longstanding U.S. nuclear defense policy, could heighten tensions with Russia and China and launch the country on an expensive effort to build space-based defense systems.
The National Defense Authorization Act, a year-end policy bill encompassing virtually every aspect of the U.S. military, contained two provisions with potentially momentous consequences.
One struck the word “limited” from language describing the mission of the country’s homeland missile defense system. The system is designed to thwart a small-scale attack by a non-superpower such as North Korea or Iran.
A related provision...