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Media Availability with Secretary Rumsfeld and Minister Ivanov from Fairbanks, Alaska

Presenters: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld and Russian Minister of Defense Sergey Ivanov
August 27, 2006
SEC. RUMSFELD: Good afternoon. We have just had a very good meeting and a good lunch and an opportunity to renew a relationship between the two of us that stretches back now a good number of years.

I'm personally delighted to be here in Alaska and have an opportunity to participate in this activity that will take place later this afternoon, of reminding the world of the close cooperation that existed between the United States and the Soviet Union during that period.

And I'm told there will be some 10 or 15 or 20 of the pilots and crews and mechanics and people who were involved in bringing the aircraft here to Fairbanks, where they were then picked up by Russian pilots and crews, and taken on into the Soviet Union.

And Mr. Minister, welcome.

MIN. IVANOV: Well, once again, I'm also pleased to see once again Secretary Rumsfeld here in Alaska. And to be honest, I've lost control -- I mean, I've lost count how many meetings we have already had.

SEC. RUMSFELD: A good many.

MIN. IVANOV: (In English.) A good many. Exactly.

(Through interpreter.) During our meetings we have discussed the close cooperation between our Defense Departments. Specifically, the good political climate and there are global security issues that greatly depend upon the cooperation between the Department of Defense of the United States and the Russian Ministry of Defense.

We have discussed cooperations and the deliberations between our Defense Departments, and annually we have lots of exercises between discussions. And as we already mentioned today we also discussed lots of -- plenty of issues which are also included on the checklist of tasks which was agreed on by our presidents in the course of July summit meeting in St. Petersburg.

So I am referring to the possibility to sign a U.S.-Russian intergovernmental agreement on defense technologies cooperation. (Inaudible) -- there are also differences and discrepancies -- (inaudible) -- but at the same time we have -- (inaudible) -- in order to finally sign this defense technologies cooperation agreements, as well as we are dealing with the possibility to sign a U.S.-Russian bilateral agreement on the information protection in the outer space field.

Regional security was also one of the topics of our discussion. Afghanistan, Iran -- (inaudible) -- North Korea, the Middle East, Iran, Iraq were also discussed.

These are the items which are included permanently on our agenda, and these are the topics which were covered during our meetings with Secretary Rumsfeld.

In respect of the issues which were discussed, for instance, regional cooperation or defense -- missile defense cooperation, we always hope that there will be transparency and predictability, as well as the mutual respect of our governments' interests.

Now I'm ready to take questions.

Q (Through interpreter.) Now, Mr. Ivanov, you have come here from Vladivostok, and do you hear that -- (inaudible) -- has managed to find -- managed to find out where is the place of the -- (inaudible) -- where the Second World War times U.S. submarine Wahoo was found sunk?

MIN. IVANOV: Thank you very much for that question.

First of all, I immensely appreciate the cooperation which has been shown by the United States of America and the state of Alaska, who do remember our cooperation in the course of the Second World War. Unfortunately, there are lots of pages of our -- (inaudible) -- the Second World War, our joint efforts in that time are still unclear and are still undiscovered.

Unfortunately, at the times when -- (inaudible) -- and our veterans are passing away. Right now in Russia there are still -- there are only three allied pilots who were engaged in bringing the aircraft from the territory of the United States to the territory of the Soviet Union. We feel very sorry that we failed to bring these three pilots to the territory of the United States, to Alaska State, because these are the people -- these are very old people, and doctors -- (inaudible) -- they travel in -- (inaudible) -- aircraft. And -- (inaudible) -- in Moscow.

These three pilots were very proud about those flights, and they remember those flights very well.

Well, indeed I do. I'm well aware of the -- (inaudible) -- from different -- (inaudible) -- the participation of the Pacific Fleet of the Russian navy, they found out the place where the submarine Wahoo was sunk in 1943. This was a very brave submarine which managed to strike down and managed to kill lots of enemies' ships, both civil and military. And right now, we have already informed the U.S. representatives in Vladivostok that we stand ready to make all the commemorations the fleet of the United States. Will consider possible in order to commemorate the memory of those brave men.

I am also well aware of the fact that the crew members obviously were absolutely brave. They managed to land with submarine and land on the territory of the Sakhalin, southern Sakhalin. They managed to strike down some -- (inaudible) -- and then return to the submarine. So this was a very successful crew.

Q Minister, you mentioned that you've discussed missile defense. What was your government's view on U.S. plans to build another missile defense site in Europe, possibly on -- (inaudible)?

MIN. IVANOV: Yes, indeed, we are informed of the preliminary plans of the U.S. government to deploy such missile defense on the territory of Europe. But speaking exclusively about -- not only about European self-defense -- but about the building of such self-defense, I would say that such activities shall be very transparent in order to -- (inaudible) -- when there will be created arms designed at penetrating such missile systems.

At the same time, we shall proceed from the reality that -- how many countries and what countries can possess intercontinental ballistic missiles.

MODERATOR: Third from left.

Q (Through interpreter.) The next question is to Secretary Rumsfeld. Sir, how do you assess the fact that sanctions were imposed on the Russian enterprise Rosoboronexport and the Sukhoi aircraft corporation? How are these companies related to or linked with the topic of nonproliferation of WMD? And do you believe that it is possible to sign a U.S.-Russian agreement on defense technology cooperation, given the fact that 80 percent of defense technologies or defense technology deliveries can be procured only through intermediary of the Rosoboronexport Company?

SEC. RUMSFELD: I was just advised of this in recent days, and it is a matter that -- in the United States, we have a law, and under the law, the U.S. Department of State has an obligation to see that the law is obeyed. And I'm told that they came to the conclusion that it would be appropriate for them to issue sanctions on two companies, which they have done. And in discussing it with the minister of Defense of Russia, there was a question raised as to the facts in the case, and I indicated that we would be happy to go back and discuss with the Department of State what the facts were and make sure that we all agree on what the fact were. And so we would be in that process in the weeks ahead.

INTERPRETER: Excuse me. Your question, please.

Q Secretary Rumsfeld, just to qualify, this summer, about 600 Alaska native National Guardsmen were deployed to Camp Shelby and were then deployed to Iraq. (Inaudible) -- if any of their family members throughout -- (word inaudible) -- Alaska at this time of year?

SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, I guess what I'd say is that we value greatly the service of the men and women in the National Guard and the active forces of the United States, and we recognize the sacrifice that they make as well as their families.

Every person serving in the military of the United States, whether in the active force, the Guard or the Reserve, is a volunteer. Each one raised their hand and said they wanted to serve the country, and they agreed to serve on the basis that they understood.

And from time to time, for limited periods, men and women in the armed forces of the United States are deployed to various parts of the world, whether it be Korea or Germany, or Iraq or Afghanistan, or in assisting the Pakistan relief effort or the tsunami relief effort in Indonesia, or functioning as the National Guard is now down along the southern border to assist with immigration problems. And they all do it and they're proud of their service and we appreciate their service, and the American people benefit greatly from their service.

Q (Through interpreter.) Well, this question is for Secretary Rumsfeld. Secretary, there were also mass media reports that say that the Pentagon is examining the possibility to use intercontinental ballistic missiles equipped with conventional reentry vehicles against terrorists. Could you please give your comments on this?

SEC. RUMSFELD: Yes, I'd be happy to. The United States is looking into the possibility of taking a relatively small number of our ballistic missiles and taking a nuclear weapon off and putting a conventional weapon on a ballistic missile. We would be happy to see the Russian government decide to do the same thing.

We think it would be a good thing, in five, 10 years from now, if both of our governments and countries had that additional weapon available in case it might be needed in an unusual circumstance.

We don't know how the world's going to evolve, but we do know that there are terrorist networks in the world, and they are already using missiles. We just saw what Hezbollah did in firing some 4,000 missiles into Israel. And we think that it's conceivable that five, 10 years from now, there could be a target -- because of proliferation -- a target that would be able to be hit or deterred, as the case may be, by a conventional ICBM.

I also would add that I think it would be vastly preferable to use a conventional weapon than it would be a nuclear weapon. So it would be lowering the lethality substantially by putting a conventional weapon on an ICBM.

If either of our countries or our friends and allies were threatened at some number of years into the future with a weapon of mass destruction or a capability that was that lethal, I think any president, whether of Russia or the United States, would like to have available a conventional weapon that could attack that party quickly and accurately and precisely and not feel that the only thing they had might be a nuclear weapon which they would not want to use.

Clearly, whatever would be done would have to be fully transparent between the United States and Russia. One would want to develop the appropriate communications links and confidence-building measures, so that there was a clear understanding of what might take place.

Now mind you, against them -- on the basis that an ICBM in flight -- some countries might not know whether it was a conventional weapon or a nuclear weapon. It seems to me that that's not a very powerful argument, because there are only a few countries that would have the ability to do anything about it, were -- regardless of which type of weapon it was. And those countries are the countries that would have the ability to know when it was launched and what the azimuth and direction of it was. And everyone in the world would know that it was conventional after it hit within 30 minutes, or 10 minutes.

And I hope that my friend Sergey takes that home and discusses it and calls me up on the phone and says he thinks that's a terrific idea. But don't feel you have to make a commitment right here.

MIN. IVANOV: No prodigal son. (Laughter.)

Okay. Please allow me to add something.

We have discussed with Secretary Rumsfeld this issue. For sure such U.S. plans, which are -- and I would like once again to stress this point: these are preliminary plans -- for sure these plans arise Russian concern. I cannot announce right now that Russia will seek -- Russia will join such initiative right now.

Well, as far as I understand, the idea, the conception of this -- the concept of this initiative is that to maximally extend the possibilities and potential of preemptive strikes.

SEC. RUMSFELD: Preemptive strike, yeah. Mm-hmm.

MIN. IVANOV: There can be different solutions. Theoretically we -- it is possible to use cruise missiles -- pinpoint or pinpoint cruise missiles. Theoretically, there is an opportunity to use pinpoint intermediate missiles, and the United States military and the Russian Federation do not possess such missiles. There are two other states which already possess such intermediate missiles.

For sure we will keep in touch to each other, and our experts will be able to do a good job in order to discuss this issue in detail.

STAFF: Thank you all.

SEC. RUMSFELD: Thank you, folks. Good to see you.

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