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Media Availability with Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz in Paris

Presenter: Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz
May 11, 2001

May 9, 2001

(Media availability at the U.S. Embassy in Paris, France)

Wolfowitz: It's always a pleasure to be in Paris but this is much too short a visit. I just want to say a few words. I am Paul Wolfowitz, the Deputy Secretary of Defense. I am here with Mr. Stephen Hadley, deputy national security advisor, and Ambassador Avis Bohlen from the State Department. I want to say a few words about why we are here and what we are hoping to accomplish. We have come not to present fixed views but to consult, to share some ideas with our allies. There have been no decisions made yet and we want to factor allied views and views of other important countries into our thinking as we move forward. The main theme of our talks has been to discuss U.S. ideas about a new concept of deterrence, ideas that were outlined in President Bush's speech on May 1st.

It reflects our view that the world has changed in fundamental ways since the ABM treaty was negotiated in 1972, in two important ways in particular: One of them extremely positive, that Russia is no longer an enemy, but the other one, cause of some concern, that we face new threats of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles. And indeed that threat in a number of countries is accelerating. The president has indicated that we think we need a new concept of deterrence that reflects these two changes, a concept that combines offense, defense and non-proliferation. It also means that we can further reduce our offensive nuclear forces and build a relationship with Russia in which nuclear weapons are no longer the centerpiece. These are some of the ideas that we have been discussing here and in other capitals of Europe, including Russia. There is another delegation that is traveling to Asia including China. We are just beginning a process, we are going to take the ideas we have heard here back to Washington with us and they will form part of the decisions that we try to move forward with. We can take, I think, about three questions if we are reasonably expeditious here.

Elaine Ganley (Associated Press): [question about French reaction]

Wolfowitz: Well, you will have to let the French characterize what they said, but I guess I would characterize the tone of it as being very open to discussion. They certainly were free to give us their views, we listened, I think they hopefully listened to ours. It was the kind of genuine consultation that takes place when we have not made firm decisions. It's not one of these things where we came with a decision and it is "take it or leave it." You asked how these will determine our final decisions. It is really for the president to decide, but we will be reporting back very faithfully the things that we hear over here and in other capitals. We also hope that some of the things that people have heard here may lead to rethinking views. I cannot emphasize enough that the changes that we are talking about in the world are really quite fundamental. It is in a way surprising that, what is it now, twelve years after the fall of the Berlin wall that we are still as wedded as we are to some cold war concepts, but they are deeply engrained, it takes a lot of thinking, a lot of work to change them.

I would not characterize their reaction, you will have to ask them. I think they have questions, and we have views also.

Christian Malar (French TV France 3): [question on the return to a Gaullist approach in France]

Wolfowitz: Can I answer the question without accepting its premise. Look, the world has changed so much in the last ten years, that I do not know of anyone who has not had some trouble keeping up with it, unless they were born in the last ten years. So what we hope is that when we have had time to really discuss these subjects and really think them through and exchange our understandings that in the first place we will find that perhaps there is less difference than we might have thought to begin with, but secondly that we can agree on the need for some of these changes. For instance, we are not talking about the mid-1980's idea of a U.S. missile shield to protect the United States from 10,000 Soviet warheads. In case you have not noticed, the Soviet Union does not exist anymore. We are not worried about that. What we are worried about are much more limited kinds of threats, and here is the point that I think a lot of people have not reflected on. It is not that we want to protect the United States and not protect anyone else. It is in our interest for Russia, for example, not to be vulnerable to that kind of a limited attack as well, and I think that once people begin to realize that this is not something that is a matter of gaining advantage over anyone but is a matter of reducing vulnerability for everybody, then I think they begin to think about it differently. Last question.

Crispian Balmer (Reuters): [question on the future of the ABM treaty]

Wolfowitz: There has been no decision about how to deal with the ABM treaty. I think the president indicated in his speech that it presents major obstacles to moving forward with serious efforts to defend against missiles, but how you deal with it is one of the subjects for these consultations. We are certainly not trying to throw arms control aside. I mean, let's take the very important subject of non-proliferation which we have indicated is one of the three pieces of this overall framework. We believe that the non-proliferation regime has had major successes, and those successes should be preserved; if anything, they should be strengthened. At the same time I think anyone would have to acknowledge that there are countries that are operating well outside that regime and they are presenting problems and threats to everyone. So it is not arms control or defenses, I believe it's both. Thank you.

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