News


ACCESSION NUMBER:289225
FILE ID:NEA206
DATE:06/15/93
TITLE:U.S. "DEEPLY COMMITTED TO HELPING ISRAEL," ASPIN SAYS (06/15/93)
TEXT:*NEA206   06/15/93 *

U.S. "DEEPLY COMMITTED TO HELPING ISRAEL," ASPIN SAYS
(Cites new threats to Israel and Mideast peace)  (640)
By Norma Holmes
USIA Staff Writer
Washington -- With the disintegration of the Soviet Union, "a whole new
dimension" of threats to Middle East peace and security and to Israel have
emerged, including "a whole series of threats in the nuclear area," Defense
Secretary Les Aspin said June 14.

"The Clinton administration is deeply committed to helping Israel cope with
these dangers to increase the chances of peace," Aspin told the American
Israel Public Affairs Executive Committee.

"The world has changed, and the old threats are not now what we would
consider to be the major threats.  The major new threats are the missile
and the knife," Aspin said.
1
"From one end of the spectrum, Israel faces the threat of ballistic missiles
coupled with chemical, biological or even nuclear warheads.  From the
other...the danger of direct and sudden violence to individual citizens."

Moreover, he said "radicalism, both secular and religious, has gained
momentum over the last decade.  It continues to pose a special threat to
regional stability and to the peace process," he said.

"Islamic extremists linked to state-sponsored terrorism are infringing on
the basic human rights of moderate, non-violent Islamic fundamentalist
groups who want to work within the system."

A top priority of U.S. and Israeli security planners should remain stopping
the spread of nuclear weapons in the region, deterring their use and
developing effective countermeasures, Aspin said.

The defense secretary, who recently visited Kiev to persuade the Ukrainian
government to ratify the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START I) and
Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, said "the thing that is perhaps most
worrying about the situation in Russia is the threat of the spread of
nuclear weapons and the danger that they will somehow end up in the world
market.

"Syria, Libya and Iran already today have chemical and biological weapons.
All they need now are long-range missiles.  All three are actively looking
for them.  Libya wants to develop its own nuclear weapons program.... Iran
is pursuing nuclear and ballistic missile programs.  Iran and Iraq could
obtain nuclear weapons by the end of the decade.  We cannot allow these
deadly pursuits to continue," he said.

Aspin said that "at this time we have no evidence of any loose nuclear
weapons out of the Soviet Union," but the question remains how to maintain
the control over the nuclear weapons in the former Soviet Union, "how to
make sure they maintain control."

In another regional peacekeeping effort, Aspin said U.S. troops are involved
with the forces of other nations in a United Nations military operation in
Somalia.  He said the June 5 ambush of Pakistani U.N. peacekeeping forces
there "clearly required a U.N. response.... From the look of it, the ambush
was premeditated, well-planned, and a test of the U.N. peacekeeping
effort."

"It is crucial that the United States support the U.N. effort and respond in
the appropriate manner against Aidid's aggression and his weapons,
supplies, and backers," Aspin emphasized, referring to the Somali warlord
who was responsible for the June 5 ambush.

"We hope it sends a clear message.... The United Nations and the United
States refuse to tolerate this ruthless disregard for the will of the
international community.  And we will not tolerate this ruthless disregard
for the people of Somalia."

He said details of the most recent violence in Mogadishu June 13, when a
number of lives were lost, are still unclear, but the United Nations
authority there is conducting an investigation.  "The United States deeply
regrets any loss of life in Somalia, particularly when it comes to innocent
people,"  Aspin stressed.

NNNN

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