Now, more than four years after President Reagan challenged American scientists “to give us the means of rendering.. nuclear weapons obsolete,” the technological optimism and political currency behind his Strategic Defense Initiative have peaked. Fair-minded studies by respected scientific experts provide sobering evidence that SDI’s reach exceeds its grasp.

Many members of Congress are aware of SDI’s declining technical credibility, -increasingly unwilling to support SDI at levels requested, and upset about the administration’s reinterpretation of the 1972 Antiballistic Missile Treaty. Congress has deeply cut recent requests for SDI funding. The FY 1987 request of $4.8 billion was cut to $3.5 billion, and the FY 1988 request of $5.4 billion will likely be cut to $3.9 billion or less. In the last year, hopes for rapid development of the full range of SDI programs have suffered several staggering body blows. A study by the American Physical Society addressed the directed energy...

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