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News Briefings

DoD News Briefing


Tuesday, June 13, 2000 - 1:00 p.m. EDT
Presenter: Rear Admiral Craig R. Quigley, USN, DASD PA

Rear Adm. Quigley: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I have a few announcements this afternoon.

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Quigley: As you know, General Welch heads the independent review team, which has so far issued two reports on our national missile defense program. The third has recently been published. He is trying very hard -- and it's classified, of course. He is trying very hard to complete an unclass version and will be -- hopefully have that done, so that we can sit down and discus that with you tomorrow. That's the goal.

Q: Do you have a time?

Q: No time set yet.

Quigley: Not yet.

Q: Cameras?

Quigley: We'll announce that later on this afternoon. I am thinking here, and I am thinking early afternoon tomorrow; but we need to coordinate some schedules yet, and that is still a work in progress.

Q: This will be on --

Q: Barbara, I am not sure on cameras yet.

Q: Well, can we make --

Quigley: We'll let that know as --

Q: -- a request that we would certainly prefer?

Quigley: Indeed.

Q: But it won't be background?

Quigley: No, it won't be background.

Q: And the report will be available to us before the news conference?

Quigley: Well, the report is classified. And there is no intention of doing an unclassified report, but there will be certainly a synopsis of its findings. And you have the leaders of the independent review team that will be available -- and again, that's the goal for tomorrow -- to try to answer any follow-on questions, talk about process and some of the issues that went in the -- he may also be able to get one or two additional members of his team.

Q: The last report was published in an unclassified form -- I don't know if you want to call it a synopsis or whatever. But is there -- you know -- I don't know -- 50 pages or something -- are you going to do the similar --

Quigley: I don't know. It certainly won't be available in that format by tomorrow. I don't know; I just simply have not discussed that with him.

Barbara?

Q: Can we just come back on one thing? I think I heard you answer to him it's not a background session?

Quigley: Correct.

Q: So, therefore, we will be able to have cameras.

Q: Yeah.

Quigley: Well, that's my working assumption. Okay? You're trying to nail me down with specifics that I don't have yet, and I do promise you that we'll have them before close of business today. But that's what we're shooting for, for tomorrow.

And that completes my announcements. I'll be glad to take your questions.

John?

Q: Just to get a step ahead of these, Larry Welch and the people who may be briefing tomorrow. As you know, yesterday, a group of 35 scientists went up on Capitol Hill and said to various lawmakers that national missile defense is not going to work, it's a stupid idea, and that even if you spend the money, it's not going to work. Do you have any response to --

Quigley: Well, certainly. I mean, that's certainly not our position, John. I mean -- we have --

Q: It's not stupid?

Quigley: -- we have always said that this program is technologically very challenging but we feel we are making good progress. And the testing process is laid out for quite a ways to come. We are anticipating the next shot to be in early July.

That's a significant shot, but it's certainly not, by any stretch, the final test. The testing of a national missile defense program would stretch on into the next several years, as you might expect for a program of this complexity. We're still working with a prototype exo-atmospheric kill vehicle. We're working with a prototype, or a developmental, booster. All of the battle management radar, the command and control system, all of these things are still being developed concurrently. So there's a considerable level of technological risk.

But we have confidence that we will successfully be able to integrate these various technologies and come up with a system that is effective and can discriminate against the projected threat that a rogue nation might possess in the year 2005, which is our target to deploy this system, initial operational capability.

Q: Well, they say that you will not be able to distinguish between the kind of decoys that even a rudimentary adversary would be able to deploy. You're saying, "Yeah, we will"?

Quigley: Completely disagree with their assessment in that regard. The combination of discrimination abilities that the entire national missile defense system would incorporate gives incredible discrimination capability against the countermeasures that our intelligence community best estimates will be present from the likely nations that would deploy such a system in the 2005 time frame.

A lot of the arguments have focused on a single discriminator within the family of discriminators, and there is no single element within that, that -- on which we rely. Rather, we are relying on a combination of factors -- the radars, the optical sensor in the kill vehicle, the IR sensor in the kill vehicle, intelligence estimates -- a variety of capabilities and discriminators that we have confidence will, in total, in sum, now, be able to do the job of effectively discriminating warheads from decoys for the threat that we project to exist at IOC in 2005.

Bill?

Q: So, why? If this system was not viable, was not buildable and not workable, would the Russians, the Chinese, many of the Europeans allies make such a fuss about our not even yet having decided to deploy this system?

Quigley: Well, that's a tough one to answer, Bill. I'm not sure.

Secretary Cohen earlier today had a session of about 40 minutes, I believe, with his counterpart, Defense Minister Sergeyev. That was followed by about 45 minutes with both he and Minister Sergeyev with President Putin, and then again Secretary Cohen and Minister Sergeyev together about an hour more after that. And they discussed a variety of topics. But certainly their views on national missile defense and European missile defense and the threat and the viability of technologies such as boost phase or mid-trajectory were all very much on the table.

The talks were very constructive, although it's very clear that the two nations are -- see things very differently on this subject. The tone was amicable, and all have agreed to discuss this further and take a look. And again, we got three major elements here from the discussions today. One is the threat. Two is the viability of boost phase intercept -- interceptor program. And third is the whole concept of the European missile defense that the Russians have recently proposed. Much discussion and clarification and detail needs to be exchanged on these three subject areas, and that was agreed to today.

Q: On that particular subject of the European system that the Russians proposed, what can you tell us insofar as those details you mentioned? What can you relate to us about what they want to do, what the Russians want to do?

Quigley: Well, I don't think I can go much further than at this point in hearing the Russians out in greater detail as to what their proposal entails and take it from there, Bill. There's not a -- that is the next step, I believe, is hearing their views, getting additional details on the system that they might propose, and take it from there.

Q: And that's ongoing today.

Quigley: Well, just starting today. That agreement was reached today.

Q: Okay.

Quigley: Bob?

Q: Does the -- does the new Welch report address the question of whether the deployment readiness review should be delayed, or should go ahead as scheduled this summer?

Quigley: Yes, it does.

Q: And what does it conclude?

Quigley: Stay tuned.

Q: Well, I mean, why can't you say now?

Quigley: Because we plan on doing this tomorrow in a much more comprehensive way -- (laughter) -- much more comprehensive way than I can address today.

Q: It doesn't require a comprehensive answer, just --

Quigley: I'm not going to do it piecemeal, I'm sorry.

Q: Another subject?

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Quigley: Thank you.

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