Tags: Rumsfeld | Wants | Defense | Bill | Vetoed

Rumsfeld Wants Defense Bill Vetoed

Monday, 10 September 2001 12:00 AM

"I would recommend a veto," Rumsfeld said during an interview on CNN's "Late Edition," where he discussed Friday's vote by the Senate Armed Services Committee to strip $1.3 billion from Bush's $3 billion missile defense budget.

"I have a hard time figuring out why some people want the United States to remain vulnerable to ballistic missiles," Rumsfeld said, pointing to Democrats in control of the committee.

In addition to cutting funding, the committee voted (13-12) along party lines to put language in the defense appropriations bill that would require Congress to vote before the military could use any money to conduct a missile defense test that would violate the 1972 Anti Ballistic Missile Treaty, which the administration argues is outdated.

"The ABM treaty is an artifact of our relationship with the Soviet Union," said White House national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, who has led the administration's efforts to negotiate a way out of the treaty with Moscow.

Appearing on NBC's "Meet the Press," Rice said she hoped the administration's talks with China and Russia, both nations that staunchly oppose the administration's plans, would lead to new arms-control agreements to supplant the ABM treaty.

"We are going to make the Russian and others an offer about a new strategic framework that we think is appropriate," Rice said. "We hope it's an offer they can't refuse."

But so far opposition to the administration's plans remains stiff in Moscow, Beijing and among Democrats on Capitol Hill, where Rumsfeld's veto threat heightened tensions surrounding a debate that has divided Washington for years.

The latest arguments revolve around when the Pentagon's scheduled missile tests would violate the ABM treaty.

Legal opinions vary about exactly what Pentagon actions would violate the treaty, which prohibits deployment of a missile defense system but allows for some research and development. But given the pace of the Pentagon's program, the administration would likely be outside the treaty's limitations within a year.

Rumsfeld vowed not to break the treaty, but left open the possibility that the United States may put Moscow on notice of its intent to withdraw from the treaty this fall. Under the pact's terms, either nation can back out after a six-month notice.

"There is a broad agreement that what we have done thus far and what we are currently doing does not violate the treaty," Rumsfeld said. "Now, at some point there are tests and research and development activities that we are undertaking that could violate the treaty."

Rumsfeld said he plans to travel to Moscow later this month to continue talks aimed at burying the ABM treaty in an amicable way. But the prospects for a deal remain uncertain, and the White House has dampened speculation of an announcement when Russian President Vladimir Putin and Bush meet at Bush's ranch in Texas later this fall.

Sen. Joseph Biden, the Delaware Democrat who chairs the Senate for relations committee, said it would an "Absolute disaster" for the United States to withdraw from the treaty.

"Big nations have obligations to keep their commitments," said Biden, a vocal critic of the administration foreign policy who recently discussed missile defense issues with Beijing leadership during a 10-day trip to China.

Also appearing on "Meet the Press," Biden stressed the potential the potential of a nuclear arms build-up in China if the administration goes forward with its missile defense plans. And he said the White House's focus on missile defenses shifted government attention away from threats greater than missile strikes from rogue nations.

Biden pointed to threats like nuclear bombs small enough to be smuggled in a suitcase or in the cargo of a ship and the possibility of bio-terrorism attacks with deadly pathogens.

Biden said unproven missile defense technology "will not protect us from cruise missiles, it will not protect us from something being smuggled in. It will not protect us from an atom bomb in the rusty hull of a ship coming into a harbor. It will not protect us from anthrax."

Copyright 2001 by United Press International.

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I would recommend a veto, Rumsfeld said during an interview on CNN's Late Edition, where he discussed Friday's vote by the Senate Armed Services Committee to strip $1.3 billion from Bush's $3 billion missile defense budget. I have a hard time figuring out why some...
Monday, 10 September 2001 12:00 AM
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