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The recent revolution in the political affairs of the Soviet Union and its relationship to the United States, together with budgetary pressures, highlight the necessity for new decisions with respect to the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI). As changes in the U.S.-Soviet relationship reduce the chances of ballistic missile attacks, the United States should examine the contribution of strategic defenses to other roles and missions. The United States should also consider how defenses might contribute to policies designed to decrease missile proliferation in unstable regions. Limited defenses might protect the United States against threats by the smaller nuclear powers as well as by those nations now acquiring ballistic missiles. Protection against tactical ballistic missiles may become more important for those American allies who are in the vicinity of nations with ballistic missiles and chemical weapons. Along with efforts to restrain missile proliferation, the United States should investigate defensive systems that might help defend population and industrial targets of U.S. allies against ballistic weapons. A missile launch notification protocol, perhaps under United Nations auspices, should also be pushed forward. Finally, programmatic elements of the SDI should be aligned to develop capabilities against smaller threats.

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