Missile Defense: Will Crisis Help It?

U.S.-Russia relations have warmed so much since Sept. 11 that a resolution of the countries' most contentious dispute--over the U.S. plan to test and deploy a missile-defense system--now seems possible. President George Bush was already cracking the whip on American negotiators to clinch a deal. Now, with the U.S. ready to cut warhead levels to around 2,000 from 6,000-plus, the biggest battle may not be between President Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin, but among Bush Administration factions.

Putin has recognized that a missile-defense system isn't a threat to Russia, U.S. officals say; he just needs a prestige-preserving agreement as weighty...

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