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Rumsfeld, Rice Say U.S. Will Cooperate with Others on Missile Defense

Sunday, 06 May 2001 12:00 AM

Rumsfeld, speaking May 6 on the CBS television program Face the Nation, noted President Bush's May 1 speech on U.S. missile defense plans, in which the president argued that the security situation has changed with the end of the Cold War.

"Russia," said Rumsfeld, "is not an enemy. ... It's time to move into the 21st century, it's time to look at numbers of nuclear weapons and reduce them. Change is not easy and ... it's going to take a lot of consultation, with Russia, with our allies and with China and others, but it's worth doing because it's the right thing to do."

Rumsfeld said "I've just been looking at some of the reaction around the world to President Bush's speech, and I've been very pleased. I noticed what the Indians have said, the Australians have said, the British have said, and even President Putin of Russia has been very, very quiet and measured in his response."

Rumsfeld said the missile defense system envisioned would not end U.S. vulnerability to attack from Russia, which could overpower the system with the many missiles at its disposal. But a strategy of mutual vulnerability "doesn't work with Saddam Hussein or with the North Koreans or rogue countries or an accidental launch," he said. "This system that's being designed isn't going to affect Russia at all. There's no way in the world it would deal with the thousands of weapons that they have. That isn't what it's designed for. It's designed to deal with small numbers. Because at the end of the Cold War we've seen this proliferation of technologies, and other countries are getting weapons of mass destruction, and we can't remain vulnerable to them."

National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, appearing on ABC's This Week program, said that U.S. missile defense plans still are at an early stage, with no one ready yet to suggest "an architecture" for the system. "That's why this is a perfect time for consultations with our friends and allies and with the Russians and with the Chinese about how we move forward," she said.

Rice noted that the administration is sending high-level officials to European and Asian countries the week of May 6 to explain the U.S. position on missile defense. "The president has wanted to make very clear," she said, "that this is not a program to give the United States advantage. This is really a reshaping of the nuclear environment. The world has changed. It's time to think differently about nuclear weapons, and we want to have that discussion with all of the world -- all peace-loving countries that might benefit."

Rice said President Bush "believes that it's entirely possible to think about this as a cooperative move with the Russians, who after all are the other signatories to the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty. He offered on last Tuesday the Russians a new way of thinking about nuclear weapons, a cooperative framework to move forward. The Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty belongs to another era, when we had an implacably hostile relationship with the Soviet Union. ... The president has made very clear that the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty cannot stand in the way of what we need to do, but we did not say on Tuesday that we were walking out of the treaty. Rather, he said that he'd like to move forward in a cooperative way toward a new world. That's what these discussions are about. I was, by the way, very impressed, and indeed heartened, by Vladimir Putin's words welcoming a constructive dialogue with the United States."

On other subjects:

-- Rice on loss by the United States of a seat on the United Nations Commission on Human Rights: "I think it's a very sad day when the United States, which is after all the bastion for so many people who have been fleeing tyranny for 200 years, gets voted off the commission, and Sudan is sitting on the commission. It unfortunately really calls into question the desire of those on the commission who voted against us for a strong program of human rights. It is a bad day for people who are still suffering in tyranny, and I am quite certain and hopeful that it will get righted here soon. It's really not so much for the United States. It's not a good thing for the people who are suffering around the world in tyranny."

-- Rumsfeld on April 24 and 25 Bush remarks on Taiwan: "President Bush was very clear in what he said. ... He said what he said. He meant what he said, and the signal was taken, that the United States is in fact -- according to the law -- intends to see that Taiwan receives the kind of weapons and supplies that are necessary so that it is not vulnerable to an attack."

(The Washington File is a product of the Office of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State.)

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Rumsfeld, speaking May 6 on the CBS television program Face the Nation, noted President Bush's May 1 speech on U.S. missile defense plans, in which the president argued that the security situation has changed with the end of the Cold War. Russia, said Rumsfeld, is...
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Sunday, 06 May 2001 12:00 AM
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