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While congressional hearings on the Iran-Contra dealings have spotlighted one case of conflict between preceived policy imperatives and the law, another has gone relatively unnoticed. Of no less importance in political, international diplomatic, and constitutional terms is the Reagan administration's attempt to reinterpret the Antiballistic Missile Treaty to allow more leeway for its Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI). This reinterpretation poses a comparaable issue of policy versus the law. Signed and ratified in 1972, the ABM Treaty bans the development and testing, as well as deployment, of space-based and other mobile ABM systems or essential components. The administration, citing the treaty itself and the record of its negotiation, has claimed that the ban does not apply to systems based on new technologies.
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