NATO Must Evolve To Meet WMD Threat, Says Rumsfeld
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
BRUSSELS, Belgium, Jun. 6, 2001 Soviet troops aren't planning to crash through the Fulda Gap into the heart of Europe, and the United States doesn't expect to be attacked by thousands of nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles fired from Russia.
Why are these events unlikely to occur? Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld has a five-word answer: "The Cold War is over." But then, he also notes that dangerous new threats to world peace have emerged.
Rumsfeld will be in Brussels June 7 and 8 for the meeting of NATO's North Atlantic Council on Defense. He will also have bilateral meetings with several allied ministers of defense.
"We are committed to NATO and are engaged with it in a host of ways," he said. "It is important that a new administration underline that and emphasize it." Rumsfeld said he plans to tell NATO representatives of new dangers to world peace, such as the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction.
"It is important for the United States, as well as the NATO alliance, to adjust to those changes," he said. "The Soviet Union is gone, the Cold War is over, and the deterrence strategy does need to evolve so it is appropriate for the kinds of emerging threats that exist.
"We need to recognize the kinds of instabilities that we've seen over the past decade, the kinds of challenges and emerging threats that exist," Rumsfeld said. Some nations, he continued, have developed or are developing the ballistic missile capability to deliver those deadly weapons.
"The numbers of ballistic missiles have grown dramatically in the last three, four, five years," he said. Consequently, he remarked, many observers consider the 1972 U.S.-Soviet Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty an outdated relic of the Cold War.
He said the treaty "was designed decades ago to prevent ballistic missile defense." Rumsfeld said the United States would discuss missile defense system issues with its NATO and other allies. Russia will also be consulted, he added.
"We're embarked on a course -- because of the totally changed circumstances in the world -- on an effort to test various types of technologies and approaches to provide ballistic missile defense," he said.
Rumsfeld arrived in Brussels June 6 from Thessaloniki, Greece, where he had attended the Southeastern Europe Defense Ministerial. There, he conferred with defense and other senior officials from Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Macedonia, Italy, Romania, Slovenia, Turkey and Greece.
After completing his mission in Brussels, he travels to Turku, Finland, for a meeting of the Nordic-Baltic-U.S. Ministerials. He is expected to return to Washington June 9.