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News Briefings

DoD News Briefing


Monday, July 17, 2000
Presenter: Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen

(Joint Press Conference with Australian Minister of Defense John C. Moore at Maritime headquarters, Sydney, Australia)

Q: Sir, Bernard Lagan, Sydney Morning Herald. What role could Australia play in your national missile defense system?

Cohen: Well, first I should point out that there has been no decision made to go forward with the deployment of a national missile defense system. This is something that President Clinton will have to determine after he receives a full briefing and recommendation from me, the secretary of State, and the national security advisor. So, no decision has been made to go forward at this point. But obviously, Australia has played an important role in terms of its early warning capabilities, and I would expect that should a decision be made to go forward at some point that Australia will continue to play an important role in shared early warning so that that promotes stability throughout the Asia-Pacific region as well as for the United States.

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Q: SBS-TV. Mr. Cohen, have you asked Australia's support for NMD straight out and what was the response?

Cohen: There has been no request on the part of the United States to Australia at this point. What we have indicated is that no decision has been made as of yet to deploy an NMD, and so it would be premature for us to make such a request.

Q: Mr. Moore, could I just ask a follow-up on that. If the U.S. does go ahead with a national missile defense system, should Australia participate?

Moore: Well, we'll wait until a proposition comes to us from the American government. You've heard the secretary just say that no decision has been made by them yet. That's some distance down the road, and once that's made the appropriate channel would be to discuss it with the Australian government. When that does occur we'll respond.

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Q: Secretary Cohen. Sir, you're quoted in the "Sunday" program yesterday as saying that Australian participation in the NMD was going to use radar. I understood, and this is from defense releases here, that the more likely participation, including the new dome at Pine Gap, is for the SDIRS. Anything you are able to say on that at all?

Cohen: I think that, basically, to leave it as I have indicated, that Australia plays an important role in early warning, and that we would expect, and hope, that that would continue in the future, certainly if there is an NMD program.