November 22, 2002

U.S. Defense Secretary Reaffirms Readiness to Quit ABM

U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld reaffirmed in Moscow Monday that Washington will insist on withdrawing from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty unilaterally, even if Russia does not give its consent.

The visiting senior official told a press conference that the U. S. had specific proposals on dismantling the ABM treaty and suggested reconsidering the treaty.

"We think when all necessary tests are conducted, we will have to give up the ABM treaty," he said.

Citing a provision of the treaty, Rumsfeld said any party could withdraw from it with a six-month notification.

In case the testing of the new missile defense system proves to be a success, the U.S. will quit the treaty in about one year, he added.

Rumsfeld said the U.S. is to create a defense system capable of protecting the country from attack by a small number, or a dozen of ballistic missiles.

"We are not talking about a system that can defend against hundreds or thousands of missiles," he added.

Under the 1972 ABM Treaty, a country should not have more than one missile defense system, said Rumsfeld, stressing the provision has been outdated due to changing global situation.

He denied the allegation that the U.S. is "dragging feet" in consultations with Russia over the ABM amendments and does not provide the Russian side with the details of the national defense system.

The U.S. hopes it will be able to reach an agreement with Russia on the ABM issue before it will have to formally notify its counterpart of the withdrawal from the treaty, he said.

Rumsfeld, who is in his two-day visit here for security consultations, also said the U.S. was ready to seriously restructure its nuclear forces in the near future and make sharp reduction.

Under the instruction of the President and the Congress, the U. S. Defense Department is reviewing U.S. nuclear policies in order to make them comply with the need of the country and the principle of the lowest possible level, he said.

Stating the U.S. does not need thousands and thousands of warheads, Rumsfeld said he was to submit recommendations on this issue to the President within a couple of months.

Rumsfeld said that it was necessary for Russia and the U.S. "to develop a new system of control, consultations and monitoring" in the field of strategic stability.

Rumsfeld arrived here Sunday to take part in a new round of Russian-U.S. consultations on strategic stability and the national missile defense (NMD) issue.

The two-day trip, agreed on at the Genoa summit between Russian and the U.S. presidents in July, is his first visit to Russia as head of the Defense Department.

(Xinhua News Agency 08/14/2001)

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