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SECRETARY OF DEFENSE
Presenter: PRESS CONFERENCE

BAHRAIN INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT MANAMA, BAHRAIN 10 OCTOBER 1998

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Q: Sir, on the regional missile defense system, can you tell us what the position of Bahrain and other GCC states is on it and how it will work, how it will be financed?

Secretary Cohen: I am sorry, I have missed the first part of the question?

Q: The regional missile defense system...

Secretary Cohen: We had general discussions about the need to share information and possibly technology in the field of missile defense. Because of the proliferation of missile technology, globally, but especially in the Gulf region, and that we believe it's important to start looking at ways in which we can cooperate to defend the people as well as our soldiers and sailors, airmen and marines. So that's something that I believe we can look forward to in the future. It's very sophisticated technology, it's going to take some time to develop. We are working very actively on a series of programs that will provide protection for our troops who are forward deployed and eventually look forward of the possibility of developing and deploying a system to defend our people in the United States. But that research and development is underway, and we hope that we can share some of that information, perhaps more cooperatively in the future, with Bahrain and other Gulf countries.

Q: The regional missile system will be based in Bahrain? Secretary Cohen: Pardon?

Q: The regional missile defense, will it be based in Bahrain?

Secretary Cohen: Wherever it's required. If the Bahraini government decides that it wishes to have a missile defense system, then obviously it would be based where it is most efficient.

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Q: Do you think that the missile defense system is very necessary for the region? And why? And the second question: Is the United States intending to militarize the region despite reports previously indicating that the United States will eliminate its military forces in the region? Thanks.

Secretary Cohen: Could you repeat the first question?

Q: The missile defense system -- is it very very necessary for the region and why?

Secretary Cohen: As far as a missile defense system, if you look at what has been taking place in terms of the technology and the development and proliferation of missile technology. Iran recently tested the Shehab-3 because it has a longer range than it had previously. Other countries are developing longer-range missiles. They are also developing warheads that could contain chemical or biological elements as well as nuclear. Under those circumstances, I think it becomes imperative that countries co-operate and develop a theater missile protection system for their people and for their forces. Its very sophisticated technology. It costs a great deal to research and develop. As I indicated, the United States alone has some five separate systems that we are currently conducting research and development on. And we hope that we can accelerate that, but we are moving as fast as the technology will allow in our judgment. But we think it's important because we have so many people who are forward deployed in many parts of the world and that we intend to protect them as best we can against any missile attacks upon them. So, it will be up to each individual country to decide whether they wish to either participate and share in that kind of development of technology or acquisition of that technology. With respect to militarizing the region, we have no intention of militarizing the region. We are here at the request and at the behest of the government. And we never seek to impose our will or position on anyone. If we are no longer welcome, then we no longer stay. But, we have a long-standing tradition with Bahrain. We have been friends many, many years. We are celebrating our fiftieth anniversary of strong partnership. We hope that that will continue in the future and whatever military presence we maintain certainly will be at the recommendation and at the request of the government itself.

Thank you.

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