- The Washington Times - Monday, July 9, 2001

PARIS — Several Western European nations joined Russia's allies yesterday in calling for continued adherence to the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, dealing a rebuff to a U.S. congressional delegation and demonstrating again that the United States faces an uphill battle to win foreign support for its missile defense plan.

The show-of-hands vote came during a parliamentary assembly of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), comprising legislators from 55 member states.

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, Texas Republican, representing the United States, had sought to delete a paragraph in a draft resolution on European security that called on "participating States to maintain adherence to the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty."

The Bush administration believes the Cold War-era treaty must be amended or abrogated in order for the United States to go ahead with its plans for a national missile defense.

Russia and its allies from Eastern Europe and Central Asia all opposed the Republican senator's amendment, as expected. But more troubling for the United States was substantial support for the ABM Treaty from across Western Europe.

There was no formal record of the show-of-hands vote, but a quick count showed the Bailey amendment was defeated by an almost 2-1 margin. The German delegation voted unanimously against the amendment while the British, the United States' staunchest allies in Europe, split their votes.

Much of the support for the U.S. position came from new members of NATO such as Poland, and aspiring NATO members such as Slovakia, which can ill afford to anger NATO's most powerful member.

During a debate before the vote, the European delegates voiced numerous complaints about Mr. Bush's missile defense plan and the way it has been presented. Among other things, they said:

• Washington's unilateral action has the feeling of a "dictat."

• If Washington has credible evidence of the threat of a limited missile attack from a rogue state, it hasn't shared it with its allies.

• A limited missile defense could provoke an arms race.

• The United States appears to be abandoning a security pact that has kept the peace for nearly 30 years without another security arrangement to replace it.

"We are strongly against [the Hutchison amendment.] There is no replacement for the structure of the ABM Treaty," said Rita Sussmuth, a member of Germany's right-of-center Christian Democratic Union who called for the United States to engage Russia in constructive dialogue over security concerns.

Mrs. Hutchison told the OSCE's security committee that the United States already was consulting with Russia on the missile defense plan. "We have no problems concerning dialogue regarding ABM and missile defense," she said.

But Andras Barsony, the Hungarian who drafted the original document, told The Washington Times he believed the Bush administration's talk of "dialogue" and "consultation" was little more than lip service.

"You can't do it through CNN," he said, accusing U.S. diplomats of simply telling American allies what they were planning to do "without giving a chance to answer."

Uta Zapf, a Social Democrat and chairman of the German parliament's committee on Disarmament and Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, was equally dismissive of the American approach.

"We don't want to do away with any treaty until a proper solution has been found. To break the ABM Treaty because you think three rogue states [might pose a threat in the future] is not the way. I don't see the need to spend $180 billion to stop three small states," she said, referring to North Korea, Iran and Iraq.

British delegation chief Bruce George, a Labor Party member of Parliament, abstained on the Hutchison amendment.

"I'm waiting to see the debate in the U.S." before deciding on the issue, he explained in an interview.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide