- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 2, 2001

The Bush administration wants a "loose" framework with Russia that would replace the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and permit the United States to build a national missile defense, White House National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice said yesterday.
"We believe we have a chance to get an arrangement with the Russians that would create a new strategic framework," Miss Rice said in a meeting with editors and reporters of The Washington Times.
"It is really our hope that we could conceivably replace the ABM Treaty with a new strategic framework that recognizes the need for limited defenses in this world, [and]that brings down the number of strategic offensive weapons to something that is more appropriate," she said.
The United States, however, will not enter protracted negotiations with Moscow that might hamper development and deployment of missile defenses "at the earliest possible date," said Miss Rice, who returned last week from Moscow, where she held arms talks aimed at replacing the ABM pact.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has agreed to link offensive and defensive strategic arms issues but has not given up on keeping the ABM Treaty, Miss Rice said.
On other issues, Miss Rice said:
President Bush does not want U.S. troops to be deployed in the Balkans "forever" but will not pull them out before civilian institutions have been set up to keep the peace.
U.S. forces are working to block arms shipments into ethnic Albanian rebels in Macedonia, and Mr. Bush has taken steps to block fund raising and travel by Albanian extremists.
The White House has not received a visa request from Chen Shui-bian, president of the Republic of China (Taiwan), to visit the United States for a speech to the National Press Club.
U.S. Aegis-equipped warships could provide a shield against missile attack in Asia, but it is premature to decide whether such a system could be deployed in a joint U.S.-Japan-Taiwan system, as suggested by Mr. Chen in a recent interview.
"A lot frankly depends on what the Chinese do with their missile capability across the Taiwan Strait," she said.
On the missile defense, Mr. Bush has "a preferred course" of working out a cooperative deal with Russia to "get beyond" the 1972 treaty, which bars nationwide defenses against long-range missiles.
"But at the end of the day, he's going to have to go forward, and since we don't plan to violate the treaty that would mean we would have to withdraw," Miss Rice said.
The administration has rejected the Clinton administration's missile-defense testing plan that forced the Pentagon to restrict its tests within the constraints of the ABM Treaty, she said.
"Our guidance has been: Put together a testing program that will get us to the best possible missile-defense system at the earliest possible date," Miss Rice said. "Now, given that we have developed a robust testing and evaluation program, it is going to run afoul of the treaty, there is no doubt in anybody's mind."
The Pentagon therefore will need "maximum flexibility" in any agreement with Moscow to avoid violating the pact, signed with the now-defunct Soviet Union.
One suggestion is to set up "defense planning talks" — a forum for both sides to explain their defense and security programs amicably, she said. The framework could use some elements of past arms treaties, but she said "we see this as a much looser structure."
The administration remains open to the final legal structure of the accord, she said.
Additionally, a new framework with Russia also would seek to address the problem of weapons proliferation in a more practical way, she said.
Broad international nonproliferation agreements have not been effective in dealing with the spread of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and missile systems, she said. An alternative is to deal with rogue states like Iraq and North Korea in ways different from export arrangements governing nations like Britain or France, she said.
"We think there ought to be a bad guys list," Miss Rice said, noting that current "broad regimes are not really doing the job any longer."
One problem in explaining the need for missile defense to the American people has been bias against missile defenses on the part of the news media and others who are holding onto Cold War security policies.
Generally, news reporting on missile defense "is pretty anti-missile defense," she said.
"Every story is pretty negative — 'the test failed, the test was dummied up, you're going to crash relations with the Russians, you're going to crash relations with the Chinese,'" Miss Rice said.
Most Americans do not know the United States has no defense against long-range missile attack, and more needs to be done to educate the public, she said.
Miss Rice also sought to dispel what she said were "three myths" about the Bush national security team, led by herself, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld.
She said it is false to say the administration dislikes international treaties, that it totally rejects all Clinton policies, or that there are major policy differences among top administration officials.
"There are not even major disagreements about strategy and direction in this team," she said, noting that differences usually are related to less important issues of timing or tactics.
The administration strategy on Beijing is to integrate China's economy internationally with the goal of eventually causing its political dictatorship to reform.
"Now that said, everybody would agree that China's a rising power in the Asia-Pacific [region]and therefore we have a number of security issues in conflict with the Chinese," Miss Rice said, including China's resentment of the U.S. presence in the region, differences over Taiwan and human rights, and Beijing's weapons and missile sales.
"They believe that China ought to be the major power" in the region, she said. "That's what the EP-3 incident was all about. It was not about some reconnaissance plane."
The U.S. surveillance plane was bumped by a Chinese jet fighter April 1 over the South China Sea and the incident led to a confrontation over the detention of the U.S. air crew in China.
Miss Rice stated that the administration has consciously stopped using a slogan from the fall presidential campaign to describe China as a "strategic competitor." She said, however, that unquestionably "there are strong elements of competition in our relationship with China."
The phrase is not adequate to the complexities of U.S.-China relations, she said.

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide