Chairman Levin, Senator Warner, Members of the Committee, I don’t have an extended opening statement today, but allow me to make a brief comment about events that have taken place since we met last week.
As you know, last Saturday we conducted a successful test intercept of an intercontinental ballistic missile over the Pacific Ocean. This successful test is another step forward on the long road to developing and deploying effective defenses to protect the American people from limited ballistic missile attacks. But it is an important step. It underscores the point General Kadish and I made to the Committee last week: that missile defense is no longer a problem of invention – it is a challenge of engineering. And it is a challenge America is up to.
To build on the success of this test, we will need successive tests that push the envelope even further, that are even more operationally realistic, and to begin testing the many promising technologies which were not pursued in the past, but which have enormous potential to enhance our security.
This inevitably means that our testing and development program will eventually encounter the constraints imposed by the ABM Treaty. We are seeking to build defenses to defend the American people. The ABM Treaty’s very purpose is to prohibit us from developing such defenses.
If we are to build on this weekend’s accomplishments, we must move beyond the ABM Treaty. We are working to do so on two parallel tracks: First, with a robust research, development and testing program; and second, through discussions with Russia on a new security framework that reflects the fact that the Cold War is over and that the U.S. and Russia are not enemies.
To succeed we need your help in both areas:
First, we need Congress’s support to fully fund the President’s budget request for further development and testing of missile defense. The ability to defend the American people from ballistic missile attack is clearly within our grasp. But we cannot do so unless the President has Congress’ support to expand and accelerate the testing and development program. This weekend’s test shows the potential for success is there. Let us not fail because we did not adequately fund the necessary testing, or because we artificially restricted the exploration of every possible technology.
Second, we need Congress’ support for President Bush’s efforts to achieve an understanding with Russia on ballistic missile defense. The President is working to build a new security relationship between the U.S. and Russia whose foundation does not rest on the prospect of the mutual annihilation of our respective populations. He will meet with President Putin shortly in Genoa, he has invited President Putin to his ranch in Crawford, Texas, and has accepted an invitation visit President Putin in Russia. Secretary Rumsfeld and Secretary Powell are engaged in discussions with their Russian counterparts as well.
So an important dialogue is underway, and we are optimistic about the prospects for reaching an understanding with Russia.
But Congress can have a significant impact on the outcome of those discussions. If Congress shows the same resolve as the President to proceed seriously with development and testing of defenses to protect our people, our friends and allies, and our forces around the world, it will significantly enhance the prospects for a cooperative outcome.
Conversely, Congress should not give Russia the mistaken impression that they can somehow exercise a veto over our development of missile defenses.
The unintended consequence of such action could be to rule out a cooperative solution, and leave the President no choice but to walk away from the treaty unilaterally – an outcome none of us surely wants.
As we proceed with robust testing, we will work to achieve an understanding with Russia to move beyond the ABM Treaty. We have established a process that will identify issues raised by our program at the earliest possible moment.
The Department’s ABM Compliance Review Group has been directed to identify ABM Treaty issues within 10 working days of receiving the plans for new development or treaty events. That process is already underway.
The Secretary and I will be informed of whether the planned test bed, use of AEGIS systems in future Integrated Flight Tests, or concurrent operation of ABM and air defense radars in next February’s tests are significant treaty problems (I have fact sheets prepared by BMDO on each of these cases which I would like to submit for the record). This process will permit us to take them into account as early as possible as we pursue our negotiations with Russia on a new strategic framework. We will keep Congress informed as the process unfolds.
But if we agree that cooperation in setting aside the constraints of the ABM Treaty is preferable to a unilateral withdrawal from the ABM Treaty, then we need Congress’ full support for missile defense research and testing.
We look forward to working with the Committee to build on this weekend’s successful test, and to ensure that we can defend the American people, our friends and allies, and our deployed forces, from limited ballistic missile attacks.