- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 23, 2001

The Bush administration yesterday stepped up pressure on Russia to work out a compromise on missile defense and the future of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty before a November U.S.-Russia summit, but it insisted it had given Moscow no "artificial" deadline.
During a visit to the Russian capital, John Bolton, undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, said Washington would pull out of the 1972 ABM Treaty unilaterally if it does not reach an agreement with Moscow.
He said important decisions would have to be made before President Bush's talks with Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, at Mr. Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas.
"I think that the two presidents would be disappointed in us if we didn't have something for them to consider when they get together in Texas," Mr. Bolton told Ekho Moskvy radio in an interview broadcast last night. "But we don't consider it an artificial deadline, and we are going to try and make as much progress as we can, and we'll see what happens," he said.
Mr. Bolton dismissed newspaper reports yesterday that he had given Russian officials an "unofficial deadline" for an agreement on changes of the ABM treaty.
Articles in the New York Times and The Washington Post yesterday said Mr. Bolton had discussed the deadline in the radio interview, which was taped Tuesday.
The State Department attributed the newspaper stories to a misunderstanding in the Russian translation of Mr. Bolton's remarks.
Quoting from a transcript of the interview by the Federal News Service, a private agency, State Department deputy spokesman Philip Reeker said Mr. Bolton had clearly pointed out that an "artificial deadline" didn't exist.
White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer also denied that Washington had a deadline, noting that Mr. Bush was "committed to making progress with President Putin and Russia on new thinking how to go beyond the Cold War mentality that is reflected in the ABM Treaty."
"It's unclear exactly when the tests will lead to a bumping into the ABM Treaty, but the question was about whether there is an artificial deadline imposed this November. There is no such artificial deadline. There will be continued efforts to develop a missile-defense system and to continue with the research to protect the United States," he said.
Mr. Bolton, in his radio interview, said that if Washington and Moscow are not able to agree on the U.S. missile plan, "at some point in the not-too-distant future, we would exercise our express right under the [ABM] treaty to give notice of withdrawal."
The pact, which bans the missile-defense system envisioned by the Bush administration, requires that plans by either side to abandon the accord be announced six months in advance. At a July meeting in Genoa, Italy, Mr. Bush and Mr. Putin agreed to link missile defense to mutual cuts in their nuclear arsenals and decided to hold talks on their new security partnership.
Bill Sammon contributed to this report from Crawford, Texas.

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