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Release No: 266-95
May 17, 1995


Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, Joseph S. Nye, Jr., announced today the publication of "United States Security Strategy for the Middle East." The report is the second in a series of regional security strategies commissioned by Secretary of Defense William J. Perry to supplement President Clinton's "Strategy of Engagement and Enlargement." Relating the report to recent developments, Nye noted that it "highlights the need to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction in this volatile region, as well as the importance of the commitment the President obtained from Russia not to sell a gas centrifuge that could help Iran develop a nuclear weapon. We need to keep up the pressure on this issue, not just on Russia but also on China."

The DoD report outlines a regional strategy based on engagement with key Middle Eastern states, a robust forward presence, and continued enhancement of U.S. capabilities to project military power into the region. Nye emphasized the remarkable advances DoD has made in this regard. "In 1980, it would have taken three months to get a credible ground force in place in the Gulf. Ten years later, when Iraq invaded Kuwait, it took three weeks. In 1994, when Iraq again threatened the border and President Clinton responded with the deployment of U.S. troops, it took three days," concluded Nye.

Among the report's other highlights:

. Because of enduring U.S. interests--such as maintaining international access to two-thirds of the world's known oil--U.S. troops have seen combat more often in the Middle East than anywhere else in the past 20 years: over Libya, in Lebanon, in the Gulf during the Iran-Iraq tanker war, and in Desert Storm.

. U.S. security assistance and participation in peacekeeping have been crucial in promoting the atmosphere of confidence and security necessary for the success of the Peace Process thus far. . Despite losing much of its conventional capability in the Gulf War, Iraq still possesses the largest military force in the Gulf and poses a significant threat to the moderate Gulf states.

. There is a need for more equitable burden sharing. More than thirty countries took part in Desert Shield/Desert Storm. These countries and others made financial contributions to Gulf defense totaling $70 billion. The U.S., Britain, and France are now the only outside countries with forces in the Gulf, and financial contributions by other recipients of Gulf oil exports have dried up.

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