U.S. Seeks to Lessen World Tensions
By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May 24, 2002 Even while the United States combats global terrorism, the nation must also work with other nations to enhance security and stability, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said today.
The United States and India, for example, share important interests in combating terrorism and in countering the spread of missiles and weapons of mass destruction, the secretary said. Over the past year, the two nations have charted a new course in their relationship and completed a second round of talks on May 23.
Rumsfeld said the talks focused on military-to-military exchanges, joint exercises, joint naval operations, counterterrorism cooperation, disaster relief and humanitarian assistance. U.S. officials also expressed serious concern about the dangerous situation between India and Pakistan and the need to reduce tensions between the two countries.
India and Pakistan have more than 1 million soldiers on the Line of Control on the border of Kashmir, a province both countries claim. "We made the point that war is not an option, given the dangers of escalation and the risks of uncertainty in an armed conflict between two nuclear-armed powers," Rumsfeld said.
There is no question that these two countries are capable of waging a nuclear war, he said, but he declined to respond to queries on how devastating such a war would be.
"I have a lot of information, and I'm not inclined to get into it here," he said. "It would be bad. It would not be pretty. It would be not short-lived."
U.S. defense officials are also concerned about Iran and its "unambiguous efforts" to develop a full spectrum of weapons of mass destruction, Rumsfeld said.
"I'm not going to get into how long it will take them, but there's no question but that they're on a path to achieve that," he said. "They're receiving assistance from countries they shouldn't."
North Korea, for example, has helped Iran develop missiles, he said. Iran has also developed an indigenous ballistic missile capability.
President Bush has raised Iran's weapons development program this week during meetings with European allies and Russia, White House officials said. "It's something that we raise in meetings with other countries because it's something that ought to be of concern to that region and to the world," the secretary said.
"Iran is not a country that has warm, civil relationships with very many nations in the world," he noted. "A country of that character, that then proceeds to develop weapons of mass destruction and the ability to deliver them is an unhappy prospect for its neighbors and for other countries in the world who want to contribute to a more peaceful and stable world, as we do.
"Our ability to continue as free people, and not be terrorized, and to enjoy the benefits of world trade and the economic intercourse that exists all across the world today, is damaged by fear of war or war," he said. "It's damaged by instability."
The idea that nations like Iran or Iraq have these weapons, or will have these weapons, "ought to be of concern to thinking people" throughout the world, he concluded.