News

USIS Washington File

17 March 1999

TEXT: CLINTON STATEMENT ON SENATE MISSILE DEFENSE BILL MARCH 17

(President pleased that NMD bill includes two amendments) (430)

Washington -- President Clinton, in a statement late March 17, said he
was pleased that "the Senate, on a bipartisan basis, included in its
national missile defense (NMD) legislation two amendments that
significantly change the original bill, which I strongly opposed.

"By specifying that any NMD deployment must be subject to the
authorization and appropriations process," the President said, "the
legislation now makes clear that no decision on deployment has been
made.

"By putting the Senate on record as continuing to support negotiated
reductions in strategic nuclear arms, the bill reaffirms that our
missile defense policy must take into account our arms control
objectives," Clinton said.

Following is the White House text:

(begin text)

THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary

March 17, 1999

STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT

I am pleased that the Senate, on a bipartisan basis, included in its
national missile defense (NMD) legislation two amendments that
significantly change the original bill, which I strongly opposed.

By specifying that any NMD deployment must be subject to the
authorization and appropriations process, the legislation now makes
clear that no decision on deployment has been made. By putting the
Senate on record as continuing to support negotiated reductions in
strategic nuclear arms, the bill reaffirms that our missile defense
policy must take into account our arms control objectives.

We are committed to meeting the growing danger that outlaw nations
will develop and deploy long-range missiles that could deliver weapons
of mass destruction against us and our allies. Next year, we will, for
the first time, determine whether to deploy a limited national missile
defense against these threats, when we review the results of flight
tests and other developmental efforts, consider cost estimates, and
evaluate the threat. In making our determination, we will also review
progress in achieving our arms control objectives, including
negotiating any amendments to the ABM Treaty that may be required to
accommodate a possible NMD deployment.

This week, the Russian Duma took an encouraging step toward obtaining
final approval of START II. We want to move ahead on the START III
framework, which I negotiated with President Yeltsin in 1997, to cut
Russian and U.S. arsenals 80 percent from Cold War levels, while
maintaining the ABM Treaty as a cornerstone of strategic stability.
The changes made in the NMD bill during Senate debate ensure these
crucial objectives will be fully taken into account as we pursue our
NMD program.

(end text)