13 December 2001
Transcript: Powell Says ABM Treaty Decision Won't Cause Arms Race
(He says U.S., Russia are pledging deep nuclear arms cuts) (4160)
The U.S. decision to withdraw from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile
(ABM) Treaty has not set off an arms race, says Secretary of State
Colin Powell. Rather, it has had the opposite effect, he says, as both
the United States and Russia have pledged to begin reducing strategic
nuclear arsenals substantially.
"The Russians have said they don't see this as a threat to their
national security, and secondly they are going to go ahead with very
deep cuts in their strategic offensive forces," Powell said December
13. "This is very encouraging, and we welcome President [Vladimir]
President Bush officially announced December 13 that the United States
will withdraw from the ABM Treaty in six months. The treaty, initiated
by the United States and Soviet Union to rein in the nuclear arms
race, permits either nation to withdraw after six months'
notification. Bush invoked Article 15 of the 29-year-old treaty to do
Powell said the United States has offered to cut its operationally
deployed strategic nuclear arsenal 60 to 70 percent, from 6,000
warheads to a range of 1,700-to-2,200. President Putin said Russia is
proposing to cut its nuclear arsenal down to a range of
"We are in the same range, and this will be a subject of negotiation
and discussion, beginning with [Defense] Secretary [Donald] Rumsfeld's
meeting with Minister of Defense Sergei Ivanov next week (December
16-22)," Powell said.
The United States and Russia will continue negotiations to develop a
new strategic framework of arms control that could be put into a legal
framework for Bush and Putin to sign when Bush visits Moscow next
year, he said.
"The key point here is that an arms race has not been set off by the
United States' indicating its intention to withdraw from the ABM
Treaty. Quite the contrary," Powell said.
The secretary also discussed the State Department's Rewards for
Justice program to combat terrorism, the Middle East situation,
Cyprus, the terrorist bombings in India and the newly-released Usama
bin Laden videotape.
Following is a transcript of Powell's remarks:
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesman
ON-THE-RECORD BRIEFING BY SECRETARY OF STATE COLIN L. POWELL
December 13, 2001
2:05 p.m. EST
MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. The Secretary of
State is here, and he will introduce for you the advertising campaign,
and make a few remarks on that, and then take your questions for a
little while on this or other topics. And then after that, we will
have Under Secretary Beers and Assistant Secretary Carpenter to talk a
little more about the advertising campaign.
So without further ado, the Secretary of State.
SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you, and good afternoon, everyone. Before I
talk to the Rewards for Justice Program, I might say a word about the
President's announcement this morning concerning the ABM Treaty.
As you know, we gave notification to the Russian Federation this
morning, and we have now received a reply from President Putin, which
I am sure you all will have already seen or will see in the next few
A couple of points I would like to draw your attention to in President
Putin's reply. Obviously, they still believe that the Treaty is a
centerpiece, and prefer that we would have stayed in it. But I note in
his reply two points, one that our withdrawal -- this action that we
are taking -- is no threat to the national security of the Russian
Federation. From my conversations with President Putin earlier this
week, essentially it means that they had anticipated that this might
come at some point, and had made their own analysis, and believe that
their national security is not affected because of the size and
quality of their strategic nuclear offensive capability, and their
understanding of the nature of the missile defense program that we
will be pursuing.
And the second point I would make is that President Putin has now
responded to President Bush's Washington-Crawford statement of
reducing our strategic offensive inventory down to a range of 1,700 to
2,200 operationally deployed warheads. President Putin has now
indicated that he would like to go to the range of 1,500 to 2,200. So
we are in the same range, and this will be a subject of negotiation
and discussion, beginning with Secretary Rumsfeld's meeting with
Minister of Defense Sergei Ivanov next week.
We will aggressively move forward to continue our strategic framework
discussions with the Russians, for the purpose of bringing this into
some legal form that the two presidents can consider for signature
when President Bush visits Moscow sometime next year.
The key point here is that an arms race has not been set off by the
United States' indicating its intention to withdraw from the ABM
Treaty. Quite the contrary. The Russians have said they don't see this
as a threat to their national security, and secondly, they are going
to go ahead with very deep cuts in their strategic offensive forces.
This is very encouraging, and we welcome President Putin's statement.
Let me now go on to the subject at hand, and then I will take your
I am pleased to be here with all of you today to announce the rollout
of the domestic Public Service Announcements for the Rewards for
Justice Program. These Public Service Announcements make partners of
the American Government and the American people in the fight against
Since 1984, the Rewards for Justice Program, run by the Department of
State's Bureau of Diplomatic Security, has been one of the most
valuable United States Government assets in our fight against
international terrorism. In the past years, or in past years, this
program has allowed Secretaries of State to offer rewards of up to $5
million for information that prevents acts of international terrorism
against the United States' persons or property, and brings to justice
those who have committed such acts.
The United States of America Patriot Act of 2001, signed into law in
October, authorizes the Secretary of State to now offer rewards
greater than $5 million, if it is determined that a greater amount is
necessary to combat terrorism or defend the United States against such
Through this piece of congressional legislation, I have authorized up
to a $25 million reward for information leading to the capture of
Usama bin Laden and other key al-Qaida leaders. Congress acted swiftly
and decisively to provide us with the funding for this program.
Senators Hollings and Gregg and Representatives Wolf and Serrano led
the initiative to pass this legislation, and it will be an invaluable
tool in the fight against terrorism.
I would also like to thank the Rewards for Justice Fund, ordinary
people who have donated their time and energy and substantial
resources to assist in the fight against terrorism. This fund will
allow every American to take part in the fight against terrorism, and
every dollar donated to the Rewards for Justice Fund directly supports
the Rewards for Justice Program.
Today, for the first time, we are rolling out an extensive domestic
media campaign to support the Rewards for Justice Program. This
campaign will distribute public service announcements to every major
media market in the United States. And we have got some commitments
from major radio stations and newspapers across the country that they
will run these public service announcements.
I strongly encourage every newspaper and radio station to run the ads
and join us in this fight. The Rewards for Justice Program works. It
has helped root out terrorists in more than 20 cases around the world,
including the case of Ramsey Yousef, who is now behind bars for his
role in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. People with information
of any past or planned act for international terrorism against the
United States anywhere in the world can contact the nearest FBI office
or the Bureau of Diplomatic Security through the websites and 1-800
numbers that you see in front of you on various placards and you will
hear more about in a moment.
Terrorism threatens the security of all people. We are more determined
than ever to fight it. The United States has tracked terrorists
aggressively and made them pay for their crimes. Through this program,
thousands of innocent lives around the world have been saved through
the prevention of terrorist attacks. Without question, the Rewards for
Justice Program is an extremely effective weapon in the United States
arsenal to combat terrorism and the threat of international terrorism.
I will be followed after I take some questions by Under Secretary
Charlotte Beers and others, Dave Carpenter of our Office of Diplomatic
Security, who will talk to you in greater detail about the program.
But I will take your questions now before I have to head off to a
meeting at the White House.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, there were 60 Israeli citizens who have been
picked up in the post-September 11th sweep, many of whom if not all of
whom are connected to Israeli intelligence. There is no indication
that they were connected to the September 11th bombing, but there are
indications that they may have known about it ahead of time and the US
was not informed by them.
Are you concerned about such intelligence operations on US soil? And
have you taken up this issue with your counterpart in Israel?
POWELL: I am aware that some Israeli citizens have been detained and I
have been in touch with the Israeli Government as to the fact that
they have been detained and making sure that they have rights of
access to Israeli diplomatic personnel here in the United States.
Other nationalities have also been detained.
With respect to why they are being detained and the other aspects of
your question, whether it's because they are in intelligence services
or what they were doing, I will defer to the Department of Justice and
the FBI to answer that because, frankly, I deal with the consular
parts of that problem, not the intelligence or law enforcement parts
of that program.
Q: On Yasser Arafat, is the US trying to isolate him diplomatically?
Is the US, as some reports have it, asking European countries not to
allow him to visit? What is your campaign, apart from rhetoric? Apart
from rhetoric, what else are you doing to put pressure on Mr. Arafat?
POWELL: We have been putting pressure on Chairman Arafat to do
everything in his power to bring these terrorist elements under
control. I spoke to him again yesterday. I know he has also been in
contact with European leaders who have made the same point to him.
Hamas, for example, is killing innocent Israeli citizens, but it will
not destroy Israel. It might destroy Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian
So Mr. Arafat has a choice to make. He has got to go after these
organizations who are ignoring the possibility of peace, who are
ignoring the Mitchell peace plan, who are ignoring the efforts of the
international community to help the two sides find a way to the
Mitchell Plan, and they are a threat to everything we are trying to
do. And I think Mr. Arafat has an obligation to do everything in his
power to bring them under control with the forces that are available
to him. And we are conveying to our European colleagues that they
should deliver the same message to Mr. Arafat, and he should focus his
attention at home. And a strong statement came out of Brussels, the
European Community, the other day, which made that same point to Mr.
Q: But are you suggesting that he be shunned?
POWELL: I have not had any conversations about shunning him. Right now
he has difficulty traveling, because he has difficulty getting --
Q: You say you are not -- that the United States is not triggering a
new arms race. What are you -- how do you know that? And specifically,
President Putin talked with the Chinese and the Indian leaders today.
Has the United States done anything similar? Have you had any
POWELL: In my conversations with President Putin, and in many, many
conversations with Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov and his colleagues, it
has become clear to me that they understand the nature of our missile
defense program, that they have made an analysis of their own security
requirements and needs, and do not believe that what we are doing is a
threat to their national security. That is what they have said.
If it is not a threat to their national security, then why would they
engage in an expensive arms race, if they do not feel threatened? And
the best evidence that they do not feel threatened, and are not
engaged or planning to engage in such an arms race, is the fact that
President Putin matched and went even a little bit lower than
President Bush's range of strategic offensive warheads, and in his
statement today said let's move forward aggressively to put this into
a legal framework so the two presidents can bind the two nations at
this lower level. That is not the basis of an arms race; quite the
Now, I spoke to the Indian Foreign Minister this morning, and the
purpose of my call, as well as President Bush's call to Prime Minister
Vajpayee, was to express condolences for the tragedy in the
parliament, and offer our assistance. I also spoke to the Chinese
Foreign Minister last night, and I brought in and had a long
conversation with the Chinese Ambassador yesterday afternoon to
explain why we were taking the action we were taking with respect to
the ABM Treaty. And they will now analyze that, and I hope they will
come to the same conclusion that the Russians came to, that this
action is not intended against them; it is not a threat against their
strategic deterrence. It will be a system that goes after those
irresponsible rogue states that might come up with a couple of
missiles and threaten us, and we have to be in a position to deal with
So I don't see the basis for an arms race in anything that we have
done. I see a basis for increased strategic stability, and I look
forward to working with my Russian colleagues, as does Secretary
Rumsfeld, in pursuing that.
We spent 11 months, the first 11 months of this Administration,
working with the Russians, discussing this with them at length,
building a strong relationship, a strong relationship that could take
this kind of a disagreement. As President Putin said to me the other
day, we have a good strategic relationship that will more than survive
Does he support or approve of what we have done? No, he has said he
does not. But he has also said he doesn't view it as a threat to his
nation, and it is not. And he is looking forward to codifying our
Q: What is your reaction to the Usama bin Laden tape that was released
today? And do you think the comments that he makes on this tape should
pretty much put to rest any remaining --
POWELL: How could there be a doubt -- how could there be a doubt in
anyone's mind any longer about what we have said from the very, very
beginning? That he was the mastermind, he is the head of an
organization that participates in this kind of evil activity. It is
frightening and shocking to sit there and listen to him invoke the
name of an almighty to defend murder, to defend evil that goes against
every faith on the face of the earth. And the tape speaks for itself,
and everybody can make their judgment. But I don't know what other
judgment one can make about it.
Q: Well, Mr. Secretary, do you feel vindicated at all now, because you
were a few weeks --
POWELL: I never felt --
Q: A week or so after the attacks, you, from this podium, were the
first Cabinet official to say that bin Laden was the prime suspect.
POWELL: I have never felt un-vindicated. (Laughter.)
Q: Mr. Secretary, can you say whether the US learned anything new
about bin Laden from this tape?
POWELL: I am not in a position to answer that. I have seen the tape, I
have read the transcript rather thoroughly. But I will leave it to my
colleagues in other Departments to determine whether they have learned
Q: During your recent visit to Ankara, did you have the chance to
discuss with the Greek and Turkish (inaudible) over the (inaudible) in
Cyprus, and may we have your assessment of this effort?
POWELL: Yes. In my meetings in Ankara with Foreign Minister Cem and
other leaders, I took note of the new movement that has taken place
between the two sides, welcomed this new initiative, and we look
forward to working with both Cypriot leaders and with the United
Nations as they move forward. They had, I think, two meetings in a
period of two days, and they will be meeting again in January.
So I did take note of it, and congratulated them for this new
Q: And the G initiative?
POWELL: No, we didn't -- G initiative?
Q: Yes. Via G initiative.
POWELL: No, we didn't get into any discussions of that.
Q: Mr. Secretary, back to the Middle East, sir. This is a yes or no
question. Do you concur with Israel's decision to cut up ties with the
Palestinian Authority? And two, could you kindly define for us what
the US role is now?
POWELL: Well, you can ask yes or no questions. I decide if it's a yes
or no answer. (Laughter.)
It's a decision the Israeli Government made, and we are having
discussions with them now. General Zinni and Ambassador Kurtzer should
be in with the Prime Minister right now discussing the decision that
the Prime Minister made, the implications of that decision, how the
Prime Minister sees the way forward. And so that is as far as I would
like to go on that, until I have had a chance to talk to General Zinni
and to Ambassador Kurtzer.
The situation is getting worse, not better. And we really cannot give
up hope, we can't walk away from this. The stakes are too high. And
Prime Minister Sharon is desperate to bring peace and security.
Chairman Arafat is desperate to get the process going that would lead
to a Palestinian State.
We must find a way to bring these two somewhat complementary positions
together so that we can get into a cease-fire. And the way to do that
is to get rid of these terrorist organizations, such as Hamas, which
do not want to achieve any of the two objectives of the two sides that
I just laid out, and they are more likely to destroy the Palestinian
cause than to destroy the State of Israel. And that is why Mr. Arafat,
it seems to me, has the burden upon him right now to act very
Q: Mr. Secretary, is the President's number of 1,700 to 2,200 set in
stone, or could you match President Putin's offer?
POWELL: It was a pretty firm number. But let the discussions begin. We
want to hear why they feel that particular range is appropriate.
Obviously, our range fits within their range. So there is a way to
square this circle. I don't know that it is a problem and I don't know
that the two numbers have to be identical.
The important point is that both sides have taken significant
reductions, in our case something like 60 percent down or close to 70
percent down from where we are now. That's the detail. Or a little bit
of a nuance that President Putin didn't put in his numbers. And we
will just have to discuss with them how to go forward, two different
ranges or can we normalize on a single range.
But it is clear that the range they came up with is so close to ours
that both sides believe that we are in the same ballpark with respect
to what we need to preserve our strategic deterrence capability.
Q: Do you have any reaction, sir, from the bombings in India? This
time, the Indian Parliament was the target of the terrorist bombings
and Indian authorities blame that this is the Taliban behind these
bombings. Now bombings in India just like in Israel.
Now, what advice do you have for the Indian Government at this time
and what they should do?
POWELL: I talked to the Foreign Minister this morning and I am quite
sure that the Indian Government will do everything in their power to
find out who the perpetrators of this terrible act were, who these
murders were, who these terrorists were, and take appropriate action.
And we certainly understand their need to do that and their intent to
do that. And we offered -- the President offered in his phone call
with President Vajpayee -- FBI and other assets that could assist them
in finding out who is responsible.
Q: Don't you think that US unilateral withdrawal from the ABM treaty
would lead to disappearance of present mutual trust and understanding
in US/Russia relations and would significantly worsen your dialogue on
offensive nuclear arsenal reduction?
POWELL: No, quite the contrary. The dialogue is strong. President
Putin and President Bush have met four times at four different summit
meetings. They have formed a strong relationship, not just a personal
relationship, but a relationship based on mutual interests that
relates to values, democracy building, economic development, regional
cooperation, the campaign against terrorism, and developing a new
I have met many, many times with Foreign Minister Ivanov and my other
colleagues, Secretary Rumsfeld and Dr. Rice, are in constant contact
with their counterparts. So this will not fracture that. It is strong.
Because it is strong, we will accept this disagreement and move on. As
President Putin said to me, this is one disagreement less and we wish
you had not moved in this direction but you have indicated for months
you might move in this direction, and let's continue to build the
So quite the contrary, it will not affect our ability to negotiate
lower numbers, as reflected by President Putin's statement today
committing to a negotiation to lower numbers. There will be no arms
Q: You said last spring that the Israelis shouldn't intrude into Gaza
with their tanks and remain there. They are doing just that now. Has
there been any limit placed on collective punishment in your
discussions with Sharon both here in Washington and beyond?
POWELL: We have -- Mr. Sharon is the Prime Minister democratically
elected by the people of Israel. So we have talked to him, and I
talked to him again yesterday, and he is aware of our concerns about
going back into these territories and staying there for extended
periods. Does it actually provide you security over time, or is it
just another destabilizing element?
So, obviously, we are not in a position to put specific constraints on
him. But we are in constant discussion about the implications of such
Last one. I have to go.
Q: Mr. Secretary, could you speak more directly to the comments coming
out of Israel right now that Yasser Arafat is irrelevant? Are you
encouraging the Israelis to resume communications with him? And what
are the plans for General Zinni --
POWELL: We are in communication still with both sides. General Zinni
and my other diplomats in the region are in communication with both
sides. As I have said, General Zinni is meeting now with the Prime
Minister, I believe, and so is Ambassador Kurtzer. I expect that
General Zinni and Counsel General Schlicher will meet with Yasser
Arafat again. I don't have any immediate plans for General Zinni until
I get a report from him.
Yasser Arafat is the elected head of the Palestinian Authority and
reflects the leadership that the Palestinians wish to have. So he
still has that authority, that mantle of leadership given to him by
the Palestinian people, and we will continue to work with him. The
decision made by the Israeli Government yesterday is one that General
Zinni will talk to Mr. Sharon about and I will get more on that later
Thank you very much. I've got to get to the meeting.
(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)