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Avis T. Bohlen, Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control, Statement Before the House Committee on Government Reform

9/8/00: Avis T. Bohlen, Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control, Statement Before the House Committee on Government Reform Avis T. Bohlen, Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control, Statement Before the House Committee on Government Reform Subcommittee on National Security, Veterans Affairs, and International Relations Washington, DC, September 8, 2000 Good morning, Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee. I am pleased to appear before you today to discuss our National Missile Defense (NMD) program and how it relates to the Anti- Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty. It is this administration's position that we should not move forward with deployment until we have full confidence that the system will work, and until we have made every reasonable diplomatic effort to minimize the cost of deployment, and maximize the benefit. And, if a future President should decide that deployment is in the national interest, this administration believes we should move forward in the context of the ABM Treaty and allied support. I am obviously not in a position to speak to the technical or programmatic issues related to this system. I defer on such questions to Lieutenant General Ronald Kadish and Mr. Philip Coyle, who can authoritatively address those aspects of the program. Instead, Mr. Chairman, I will focus my brief remarks on the diplomatic and political context in which we have pursued the development of an NMD system, and the diplomatic and foreign policy ramifications of deploying such a system. When the President decided last summer for planning purposes on an initial NMD architecture, he stated that he would make a decision on whether to deploy this system based on four criteria: our assessment of the threat, technological feasibility, cost, and the overall impact on national security. A week ago today, as you know, the President announced that the NMD program is sufficiently promising and affordable to justify continued development and testing, but that there is not sufficient information about the technical and operational effectiveness of the entire NMD system to move forward with deployment at this time. In making this decision, the President took into account the four criteria I just mentioned, and, he made clear that we will continue to work with our allies and with Russia, and with China, to strengthen their understanding of and support for our efforts to meet the emerging ballistic missile threat and to explore creative ways we can cooperate to enhance their security against this threat as well. Let me say a few words about the diplomatic and foreign policy context of NMD. At the end of the day, as the President has repeatedly stated, no country can exercise a veto over a decision that he or a future president might conclude is in the best interests of the United States. At the same time, we cannot ignore the diplomatic and foreign policy implications, or fail to take the views and security requirements of our friends and allies into account as we move forward on this program. We have an obligation to do what is necessary to achieve consensus within the NATO and Pacific alliances, which are essential to our own security and to reassure others of the steadfast commitment of the United States to preserving the international arms control regimes that they have come to rely on for their own security. Our nation's unique leadership status and international responsibilities require that we take these implications seriously. As the President stated in his Georgetown University speech last week, ,Over the past 30 years, Republican and Democratic presidents have negotiated an array of arms control treaties with Russia. We and our allies have relied on these treaties to ensure strategic stability and predictability with Russia, to get on with the job of dismantling the legacy of the Cold War, and to further the transition from confrontation to cooperation with our former adversary in the most important arena -- nuclear weapons.0/00 We continue to believe that the ABM Treaty is, as the President stated, ,a key part of the international security structure we've built with Russia -- and therefore a key part of our national security.0/00 For that reason we have sought to strengthen and preserve the Treaty even as we pursue our efforts to develop a national missile defense. We continue to believe that strategic stability based on mutual deterrence is still important in the post-cold war period because we and the Russians still have large nuclear arsenals and because it guarantees stability in what is still a transitional relationship. As the President said, we are no longer adversaries, but not yet allies. The ABM Treaty provides a framework for ensuring strategic stability between our two countries, reducing the risk of confrontation and providing a basis for further strategic reductions. NMD and the ABM Treaty Deployment of the NMD system we are developing would require changes to the ABM Treaty. The deployment of an ABM radar at Shemya, Alaska, of 100 ground-based interceptors, and five upgraded early-warning radars -- for the defense of all 50 states -- would violate the obligation contained in Article I of the Treaty not to deploy an ABM system to defend national territory. Such activities would also be inconsistent with the locational restrictions of Article III. We of course do not believe that the proposed system would violate the core purposes of the Treaty, and in fact believe that updating the Treaty to permit a limited NMD would strengthen it. Accordingly, we have engaged in extensive discussions with Russia with the objective of reaching agreement on modifications in the ABM Treaty which would allow us to move forward with the limited NMD system proposed by this administration. U.S. officials at the highest levels have, since last summer, engaged in an intensive dialogue with the Russians on our proposed changes to the ABM Treaty. We have provided to Russia a draft Protocol to the Treaty that would open the way to deployment of our initial NMD system while retaining those provisions of the Treaty that underpin U.S.- Russian strategic stability. Among U.S. allies, support for NMD is strongly conditioned on first securing Russia's agreement to cooperatively amend the ABM Treaty. Support for U.S. non-proliferation objectives, and other foreign policy priorities, is also often linked to preservation of the ABM Treaty in the eyes of much of the rest of the world. Other nations regard the ABM Treaty as a necessary basis for further progress on nuclear disarmament. The health of the Treaty regime continues to be a valid interest of the international community. The degree to which other nations perceive having a stake in preserving the ABM Treaty was clear during the 2000 NPT Review conference, and has been evident in recent consultations with allied and other governments regarding U.S. proposals to amend the Treaty. For these countries, the ABM Treaty, as a touchstone of U.S.-Russian strategic stability, is clearly perceived as an important foundation of the whole structure of international strategic security and as a necessary basis for continued reductions in nuclear arms. What We Are Doing to Convince Russia and Others of the Necessity of Changing the ABM Treaty Undersecretary (John) Holum's consultations are continuing to address three broad areas designed to meet Russia's concerns. First, we have made clear to Moscow that in deploying a limited NMD system, we are responding to a new threat from long-range ballistic missiles in the hands of states that threaten international peace and stability, and not seeking to change the core foundation of strategic stability with Russia. We have told our Russian interlocutors that we believe the ABM Treaty should be preserved and strengthened by adapting it to changing international realities and a new, strategic environment that did not exist in 1972, using the amendment procedures established by the terms of the Treaty itself. We have proposed only those Treaty changes that we believe are necessary to allow the United States to address those threats we expect will emerge in the near-term, while establishing the basis for further adaptations of the Treaty in the future, should the emerging threat warrant. Second, we have sought to demonstrate to the Russians that a limited NMD system will not threaten their strategic deterrent. In fact, in our discussions, criticism by Russian officials of NMD has not focused on the impact of our proposed NMD system on their deterrent, but rather, on their concern that such deployments would establish an infrastructure allowing future breakout. Finally, in part to address this Russian concern with breakout we have proposed a series of confidence-building and transparency measures. To date the Russians have not agreed to amend the ABM Treaty, but we have come considerably closer to agreement on some key aspects of the problem -- for example on the nature and reality of the threat. This progress is reflected in the Joint Statement on a Strategic Stability Cooperation Initiative signed by Presidents Clinton and Putin in New York on Wednesday (September 6). We have also been pursuing close consultations with our NATO and Pacific allies, who have all made clear that they hope the United States will pursue strategic defense in a way that preserves the ABM Treaty. Their support is important to us for a number of reasons. Our European and Asian allies are crucial to our efforts to counter the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, including ballistic missiles and missile technology, efforts which continue to be a strong line of defense against the threat of missile proliferation. Moreover, an effective NMD requires the consent of two allies to upgrade the radars that are situated on their territory. Our allies have uniformly welcomed the President's decision to defer a decision on deployment as providing more time for discussion of the emerging ballistic missile threat and the role of ballistic missile defense in responding to that threat. We have kept our allies fully informed of our dialogue with Russia on these matters, and have worked hard to strengthen our allies' understanding and support for our NMD program and our initiatives to preserve, strengthen, and modernize the ABM Treaty. We believe that effective missile defenses would, if anything, enhance the United States' ability to fulfill its NATO and global security commitments, rather than lead to ,decoupling.0/00 We believe that traditional deterrence would be bolstered if we are able to convince a would-be attacker that his attack would fail before it is carried out in the first place. We will continue this dialogue with our allies in the months ahead. We have also made clear to China that our national missile defense efforts are not directed at them. Conclusion In sum, Mr. Chairman, the President's decision has given us more time to work toward narrowing our differences with Russia and to involving our allies in shaping a coordinated response to the emerging ballistic missile threat. President Clinton and President Putin have agreed that we should intensify our work on strategic defense while pursuing, in parallel, deeper arms reductions in START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) III. Our two presidents have also instructed their respective experts to develop further cooperative initiatives, in areas such as theater missile defense and early warning and ballistic missile threat assessment. We continue to believe that an effective NMD system can be developed and deployed within the context of resolving the concerns of our allies and the objections of Russia. Let me conclude by reiterating a point the President made in his speech last Friday. The President said that ,No nation can have a veto over American security. Even if the United States and Russia cannot reach agreement, even if we cannot secure the support of our allies at first, the next President may nonetheless decide that it is in America's national interests to go forward with deployment of NMD. But by the same token, since the actions -- and reactions -- of others in the world bear on our security, clearly it would be far better to move forward in the context of the ABM Treaty and allied support.0/00 As the President said, ,America and the world will be better off if we explore the frontiers of strategic defenses while continuing to pursue arms control, to stand with our allies, and to work with Russia and others to stop the spread of deadly weapons.0/00 ###