On 23 March 1983 President Ronald Reagan announced a new national defence program called the Strategic Defence Initiative. It was later dubbed ‘Star Wars’ by the media due to the futuristic array of anti-missile systems for which it provided development funding. As the intercontinental ballistic missile arsenals of the US and Soviet Union became larger and harder to counter using conventional anti-ballistic missiles, the policy of mutual assured destruction became ever more likely in the event of a crisis. Reagan was highly opposed to this defensive strategy and favoured the SDI as a means of intercepting an enemy nuclear strike before impact. Cutting-edge research in experimental technologies initially inspired ambitious defensive plans which explored options such X-ray lasers that would be fired from orbiting satellites, electromagnetic rail guns and neutral particle beams. The SDI was eventually discontinued in 1993 in favour of a new programme focussing on land-based kinetic missile defence systems.
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