- The Washington Times - Friday, July 13, 2001

The United States is planning tests that would stray from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty "in months rather than in years" to achieve President Bush's vision of a global defense against ballistic missiles, the Pentagon's No. 2 official testified yesterday.
The blunt declaration from Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz came in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee. Majority Democrats want to scale back Mr. Bush's $8.3 billion request for missile defense next year.
Mr. Wolfowitz told the committee of an expanded and accelerated test plan, beginning in 2002, that would have the United States build a new interceptor site in Alaska and test the Navy's powerful Aegis radars at sea. The goal is to activate a "layered defense" against ballistic missiles, a far more ambitious and costly security architecture than previously envisioned by the Clinton administration.
"As the program develops and the various testing activities mature, one or more of those will inevitably bump up against treaty restrictions and limitations," Mr. Wolfowitz told the committee. "Such an event is likely to occur in months, rather than in years."
But the deputy secretary painted an optimistic picture of how Moscow will ultimately react. He predicted that the United States will reach an "understanding" with Russian President Vladimir Putin in order that tests which conflict with the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty constraints may be conducted.
If Russia says no, Mr. Wolfowitz said, the administration has two choices: "either to allow an obsolete treaty to prevent us from doing everything we can to defend America or to withdraw from that treaty unilaterally, which we have every legal right to do."
Committee Democrats, however, remain skeptical. Chairman Carl Levin, Michigan Democrat, portrayed the Cold War ABM pact as the glue that holds other arms treaties together. He suggested Russia, China and other nations will respond by igniting a new arms race and increase the deployment of nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) in order to compensate for this country's limited anti-missile defense system.
"Would that response increase the possibility that unimaginable horrors of a nuclear attack would be rained upon us as a result of breaching the treaty?" he asked.
Mr. Wolfowitz said the envisioned system is only designed to knock down a relatively small number of missiles and thus there is no need for Russia to increase an arsenal that could already overwhelm U.S. anti-missile defenses.
While Mr. Wolfowitz was putting Congress on notice that Mr. Bush plans to keep his campaign promise to field a defense system, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld also appeared on Capitol Hill before a pro-defense group to make the same point.
"The United States is not going to violate the treaty," Mr. Rumsfeld said. "If we get to the point where we need to get beyond the treaty and we haven't been able to negotiate something, obviously, there's a provision you can withdraw in six months and that's what you'd have to do."
The administration's offensive on missile defense came two days before the Pentagon conducts an important test of a proposed ground-based interceptor. Tomorrow night's flight test, involving an interceptor and a dummy ballistic missile, is the first since July 2000, when the attempt to "hit a bullet with a bullet" failed.
Mr. Wolfowitz made an impassioned call for the committee to approve Mr. Bush's $8.3 billion request, a 57 percent increase over this year's budget. He said the world has changed considerably since the now-defunct Soviet Union and the United States signed the 1972 ABM Treaty. He said only nine countries possessed ballistic missiles 29 years ago; today, that number has increased to 28.
He said the United States has made little progress in developing a defense to stop any type of ballistic missile attack since an Iraqi Scud missile 10 years ago struck a barracks in Saudi Arabia, killing 28 American service members.
"While we have been debating the existence of the threat for nearly a decade, other countries have been busily acquiring, developing and proliferating missile technology," he told the committee. "Thanks in no small part to the constraints of the ABM Treaty we have wasted the better part of a decade. We cannot afford to waste another one."

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