Index

SLUG: 5-49407 Europe Missile Defense DATE: NOTE NUMBER:

DATE=05/02/01

TYPE=BACKGROUND REPORT

NUMBER=5-49407

TITLE=EUROPE / MISSILE DEFENSE

BYLINE=ROGER WILKISON

DATELINE=BRUSSELS

CONTENT=

VOICED AT:

INTRO: U-S allies in Europe are nervous about the potential impact of an American missile-defense system on global stability. But, as Correspondent Roger Wilkison reports from Brussels, they are welcoming Washington's pledge to consult them on the issue.

TEXT: European leaders are still digesting President Bush's intention to create a new missile-defense system and his desire to scrap the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. Some of Washington's European allies fear that the development of such a system will prompt both Russia and China to increase their nuclear arsenals.

The A-B-M treaty, as it is known, is viewed by European governments as a cornerstone of international arms-control agreements. And it bans just the kind of system Mr. Bush is wants to deploy.

Germany has reacted cautiously to the idea, saying it believes treaty-based arms control should be strengthened, not weakened. But it has welcomed the President's promise to consult with Russia, China, and the Western allies.

Diplomats at Brussels-based NATO say France, which has in the past strenuously objected to U-S plans for missile defense, is especially worried that such a system could make its own nuclear strike force obsolete.

Britain, which prides itself on having, what it calls - a special relationship with the United States - is publicly more supportive of the United States than other U-S allies. But Foreign Secretary Robin Cook, speaking in Parliament, stops short of endorsing the controversial missile defense shield.

/// COOK ACT ///

I very much welcome the commitment that President Bush is making for early and senior consultation with close allies. That is what we asked for, and I am glad that he's agreed to it.

/// END ACT ///

Mr. Cook says Britain recognizes that there is a threat that must be dealt with.

/// 2nd COOK ACT ///

I fully understand the United States' concern with missile proliferation. We share it. We want to work with them against it.

/// END ACT ///

Washington needs Britain's help to establish the shield because the system would involve using an early warning station and a communication center located in England.

The British position is shared by NATO Secretary General George Robertson, who says he supports Mr. Bush's commitment to close consultation with the allies.

In recognition of the tough selling job he has ahead, the president says he is dispatching a high-level team to European capitals next week.

Belgian Foreign Minister Louis Michel is one official who remains unconvinced about the merits of the missile defense system.

/// MICHEL ACT IN FRENCH, EST. AND FADE ///

He says its effects could prove extremely dangerous, especially for Europe. He says a unilateral act by the United States to develop such a system risks creating a new arms race. He says he is convinced it is a bad initiative.

Analyst Richard Cobbold, of London's Royal United Services Institute, says the consultation process will be crucial in Washington's effort to garner support for the project.

/// COBBOLD ACT ///

The first part of the debate will be (framed around the question): is the threat to the United States real? Is the threat to Europe real? And if it is not real in the eyes of Britain and Britain's European allies, then they will say, why do you need this system?

/// END ACT ///

/// OPT /// Another London-based analyst, Daniel Plesch of the British-American Security Information Council says he does not believe the threat from so-called rogue states really exists.

/// PLESCH ACT ///

The president was talking about North Korea, Iran, Iraq - all very unpleasant countries, but, frankly, all pretty weak countries. There really is no serious defense industrial base outside the West. We control all the weapons, and, yet, the United States, still, in a rather paranoid way, seems to think it is vulnerable.

/// END ACT // END OPT ///

Some European diplomats argue that, instead of tying U-S security to missile defenses, Mr. Bush should resume negotiations aimed at trying to halt North Korea's missile program. But they also acknowledge the new administration has created a sense of inevitability about the development and deployment of a missile defense system. (SIGNED)

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