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Is there any way to stop a ballistic missile? It's a question raised by a report criticising the US government's missile interceptor plan for Europe.

Ted Postol of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and George Lewis of Cornell University analysed publicly released videos of tests of the Standard Missile 3 (SM-3), which the US plans to deploy on ships in the Black Sea. The SM-3 is a surface-to-air missile with extra power and sensors. Though its low weight gives it the flexibility to be launched at sea, the researchers reckon only one or two of the 10 tests destroyed a warhead. The analysis was published in the May issue of Arms Control Today.

Blocking a ballistic missile is far from easy: it's like hitting a bullet with a bullet. Such missiles coast through space before re-entering the atmosphere up to thousands of kilometres from their launch site.

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