- The Washington Times - Friday, August 10, 2001

Russia gave the United States the go-ahead yesterday to test a missile-defense system, saying testing alone would not violate the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty as long as Washington notifies Moscow beforehand.
Even one of the more provocative measures suggested by the Bush administration — a permanent base in Alaska to test rockets and other devices needed to build a missile shield — could be within ABM treaty limits, said Gen. Yuri Baluyevsky, deputy chief of the General Staff.
"Automatically, it would not mean violation of the treaty," Gen. Baluyevsky told reporters at the Russian Embassy, when asked about the Alaska proposal. "Under the treaty, testing can be carried out, but only with notification."
The remarks by Gen. Baluyevsky, who headed a 10-member Russian delegation to security talks with Pentagon officials this week, indicated Russia is continuing to ease its objections to U.S. efforts to develop a system capable of hitting incoming nuclear warheads.
Until recently, Russia had been bitterly opposed to President Bush's plans to develop a missile shield.
But Moscow opened the door to a possible shift when Mr. Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed last month in Genoa, Italy, to link U.S. missile defense with large cuts that the Kremlin wants in both nations' nuclear arsenals.
This week's talks were to provide details of the U.S. program to the Russians in advance of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's talks in Moscow next week with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov.
Gen. Baluyevsky said the U.S. side gave no indication it planned to either abrogate the ABM treaty or attempt to change it.
He also said he doubted if it were possible to build an effective missile shield.
"Today, the technical level does not allow us to assure 100 percent efficiency of the [missile-defense] system," Gen. Baluyevsky said.
"[Even] in the very distant future, we will not be able to solve the problem of providing 100 percent effectiveness of the system.
"I don't have to explain to you what is the result of the explosion of one single warhead over your own city.
"I am convinced that future generations will arrive at a different conclusion, a simpler conclusion, than building such a [missile-defense] system," said the general.
He said that Russian technical observations of a July 14 missile test, in which a U.S. missile shot down a dummy warhead over the Pacific, cast doubt on whether it was the clear success described by Washington.
"There is no precise data which would show there was a direct hit of the payload against the dummy," he said.
His remarks came as the Pentagon announced it is on track to conduct another missile-defense test in October and three more next year.
In announcing the tests, Army Maj. Gen. Willie Nance told a news conference that last month's successful "hit-to-kill" U.S. test over the Pacific Ocean was almost flawless.
The United States is attempting to convince the Russians that the proposed missile shield is not a threat to Russia or to world security but only intended to defend against launches by rogue states, such as North Korea, Iran and Iraq.
While developing the system, the United States is also prepared to make deep cuts in its current nuclear arsenal.
Gen. Baluyevsky said yesterday that unilateral U.S. cuts in nuclear missiles are not acceptable without verification and without guarantees the warheads won't be used on other launch vehicles.
Mr. Bush has pledged to build the system even it requires modification or abandonment of the ABM treaty.
That treaty allowed each side to build missile defense only around its capital or a single military command center.
Russia built a system around Moscow, but the United States did not build one.
The heartland and all other cities of each country remained vulnerable to missile attacks — a policy that sought to guarantee peace through mutually assured destruction, or MAD, in Cold War jargon.

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