- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 1, 2001


The Bush administration has decided to embrace a range of advanced technologies, such as space-based lasers and interceptors, as possible components of a global missile defense system, Pentagon and congressional officials said yesterday.
President Bush today delivers a major policy speech on the issue by generally outlining his goals for a limited shield against ballistic missiles.
He plans to talk about his proposal to unilaterally slash the U.S. nuclear arsenal while warning Russia that the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty must be abandoned or changed to let the United States to erect a multilayered missile defense.
Officials said they expect the president to call for increasing the $4.5 billion now spent annually on developing missile defenses. The sources also say the president will repeat his campaign proposal to reduce the U.S. arsenal of 7,000 nuclear weapons below the 3,500 level dictated by the 1993 START II treaty.
This will mean reducing the number of Russian targets now in the Pentagons Single Integrated Operating Plan (SIOP).
Offering nuclear arms reductions is part of a White House strategy to win over nervous European allies and coax Russian President Vladimir Putin to agree to change the ABM Treaty.
"He will say the ABM Treaty has the characteristic of belong(ing) to another world, that is the world of 1972, not to the world of 2001," said a senior administration official. "And also that it will prevent us eventually from developing and testing the promising options that we are uncovering in the review."
The White House yesterday kicked off a concerted campaign to convince Europe that missile defense will not lead to a new Cold War-style arms race.
Mr. Bush telephoned four leaders Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder of Germany, President Jacques Chirac of France, Prime Minister Jean Chretien of Canada and Prime Minister Tony Blair of Great Britain. He also spoke with NATO Secretary-General George Robertson.
The United States soon will dispatch a diplomat to Europe to explain the presidents plan.
The hard sell is Russia, where Mr. Putin has warned of dire consequences.
Said White House spokesman Ari Fleischer, "(The presidents) message to Russia is that the development of a missile defense system, so we can think beyond the confines of the Cold War era, is the best way to preserve the peace."
Added the administration official, "Putin himself has suggested from time to time that they understand that there is a new threat and that they understand that defense might be a part of addressing the new environment."
Pentagon aides say that they find considerably less opposition to the plan in private discussions with European counterparts than the allies express in public.
Some Europeans, the sources say, are somewhat ignorant of the limited nature of U.S. intentions to protect its soil against a limited attack, either from an accidental launch or a rogue nation such as North Korea or Iran.
The thrust of Mr. Bushs speech at the National Defense University in Washington will be to outline a shift in direction from President Clintons missile defense approach. His aides adamantly wanted to adhere to most ABM Treaty limits on the number of interceptor sites and the use of space.
In contrast, Bush defense advisers want major treaty changes so the Defense Department can design a layered defense. Such a system would rely on ground, sea and airborne interceptors and lasers to knock down ballistic missile warheads in space or destroy the launch vehicle itself in the so-called boost phase.
The Clinton plan called for building a site for 100 high-speed interceptors in Alaska and a tracking radar on the states Aleutian island chain. He decided in July against deployment, after two test failures. But Mr. Clinton did bolster the hopes of missile defense advocates by signing into law legislation that makes it U.S. policy to deploy a system when technologically possible.
"I think its imperative that President Bush address the ABM Treaty and at least give some evidence that the ABM Treaty will not be allowed to hold back the development and deployment of an effective missile defense system," said Jack Spencer, an analyst at the Heritage Foundation, which supports building a defense.
Mr. Spencer said he expects him to "make the official commitment to develop an effective multilayered defense system that protects the United States, and its friends and allies abroad."
"I think what we will end up doing is building a single land-based system in Alaska and deploying a sea-based system as soon as possible" while continuing research and development in space-based lasers and interceptors, he said.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, a strong backer of countering ballistic missiles, has headed two commissions whose findings heartened missile defense proponents.
One, a 1998 panel on the ballistic missile threat, concluded rogue nations would develop weapons capable of hitting U.S. soil sooner than intelligence agencies are predicting. A 2000 commission on space encouraged research into space-based weapons and defenses.
Said the administration official, "The goal here is still to go against limited threats. This is not to go against thousands of nuclear warheads. This is aimed at a particular kind of threat which is the small attack that is essentially a blackmail or terrorist attack and that anybody whos not intending to blackmail the United States and its allies should have nothing to fear from this system."


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