Index

January 19, 2000

PRESS BRIEFING BY JOE LOCKHART The Briefing Room

12:50 P.M. EST

                              THE WHITE HOUSE
                       Office of the Press Secretary
______________________________________________________________
For Immediate Release                         January 19, 2000

                             PRESS BRIEFING BY
                               JOE LOCKHART
                             The Briefing Room


12:50 P.M. EST

          Q    How is the millennium going?
          MR. LOCKHART:  The millennium is 19 days old.  That's the only
comment I'm going to make on it.

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          Q    What's the White House's reaction to the failure of the
missile tests, and how will that potentially affect the President's --
          MR. LOCKHART:  Obviously, you're talking about something that's
very technologically challenging.  The feasibility of -- I can't remember
the exact numbers, but you're trying to hit like a fired bullet halfway
across the country at vast speeds.  So this is something that's very
challenging.
          I think as far as the reaction to this test, we know that it
didn't meet the standards that the Pentagon had hoped in moving forward
with the test, but I think they need some time to assess the data to look
at the reasons.  I don't think they, at this point, have been able to
develop the whys behind the failure of the tests, so I think they'll do
that, they'll make an assessment.  There's no reason at this point to
believe that they can't meet their summer deadline of making a
recommendation to the President, but it's not something that's completely
knowable at this point.  They will need to go through the data and make an
assessment off of that.
          As you know, they've got another test planned for, I think, three
months from now.  They'll work very hard to incorporate whatever went wrong
in this test into that one, so I think at this point, for at least the next
couple of days, we'll just have to wait and see.
          Q    Just to follow, is it too early to speculate on what impact
these failures --
          MR. LOCKHART:  I think it is.  I think that they do these tests
for a reason.  Obviously, if this was easy technology, they wouldn't have
to test, they would just go ahead and deploy.  Obviously, they can't do
that.  I think they need some time to figure out what went wrong, see what
they can learn from that, see how big a problem they have.  But there is no
reason at this particular point in time to say one way or the other
definitively that this will have an impact on the self-imposed deadline.

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                                 END           1:15 P.M. EST