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DoD Seeks to Expand New Relationship With Russia

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 31, 2001 – The new relationship the United States would like with Russia will be furthered by eliminating the Anti-ballistic Missile Treaty, said a DoD policy official Aug. 28.

J.D. Crouch, assistant defense secretary for international security policy, said the United States is not averse to arms control pacts, but will use them where appropriate and act unilaterally where appropriate.

Crouch, whose portfolio includes Europe, the former Soviet republics and the Balkans, spoke at a roundtable with the press.

The 1972 ABM Treaty is at the heart of the new relationship the United States wishes to establish with Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin said Russia considers the pact a cornerstone in U.S.-Russian relations. President Bush believes the pact has outlived its usefulness. Bush wants to establish a limited ballistic missile defense system, and the treaty forbids this.

"President Bush wants to move beyond the treaty," Crouch said. "We'd prefer to do it in cooperation with Russians. The ABM Treaty ensconces an adversarial relationship rooted in the Cold War. It's based on the idea that there is stability in the ability of the United States and Russia to blow one another up. We think that is not an appropriate relationship for a new relationship with Russia."

The United States wants both countries to withdraw from the pact. U.S. officials believe the threat no longer comes from Russia, but from rogue states seeking to build ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction. To combat this, the United States wants to build a limited ballistic missile defense system that will defend the United States, its allies and U.S. deployed forces.

The United States does not want to amend the ABM Treaty. "One of the issues we're dealing with is that we don't have an architecture [for ballistic missile defense]," Crouch said. "We don't have a set number of missiles we want to deploy. We don't have a set series of technologies that we definitely know we're going to implement.

"What we do have is a robust test and development program that is designed to solve specific technical issues and present the president with technologies and deployment options he or a future president can decide on."

No knowing exactly what a syst4em would look like makes it impossible to negotiate any changes in the treaty. "We can't say today whether we're going to be defending with ground-based interceptors, airborne lasers or sea-based systems," Crouch said.

The United States does want to cooperate with allies in the system. As the treaty is now written, the United States cannot share missile defense technology with allies.

Crouch sees arms control efforts, counterproliferation efforts and the missile defense system as "complementary."

The administration is looking where arms control can be valuable and where it hinders U.S. interests. "This is rather than taking the position that any and all arms control approaches are, by definition, the way to reduce threats to the United States, to reduce threats to our allies and to cooperate on them," Crouch said.

The changing threat works against formal arms control agreements. He said the first Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty took 10 years to negotiate and covers hundreds of pages of technical data, protocols and annexes. "There's a sense ... that this will not allow us to make the kinds of adjustments to our own forces and, that we think the Russians would want to make to their forces, in the timeframes required," he said.

Crouch said one of the best aspects of President Bush's program is the move away from a National Missile Defense program toward a system designed to protect the United States, its allies and U.S. deployed military forces. "I think that makes sense from a military standpoint, but I think it makes sense from a diplomatic and political standpoint, [too]," he said. "We really regard this ballistic missile threat as something not aimed peculiarly at the United States. It's something that can affect our interests almost anywhere. There was some sense in some European capitals that the National Missile Defense focus had an isolationalist impulse to it."

He said the program's new emphasis gives the United States another way for the country to engage with allies.

"The [ballistic missile] threat doesn't know borders," he said. "In the near term, it is more focused overseas."

The Russians, European and Asian allies should have as much of an interest and concern in the emerging ballistic missile threat as the United States. The rogue nations are nearer their population centers. "We need to explore responses to those common threats," Crouch said.

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Related Sites:
Media Roundtable with ASD (ISP) Crouch, Aug. 28, 2001

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