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Rumsfeld: U.S., NATO Gird For 21st Century Threats

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WARSAW, Poland, Sept. 25, 2002 -- The United States and NATO will be prepared to face the 21st century threats of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction, U.S. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said here today.

Rumsfeld, along with NATO Secretary-General George Robertson, held a news conference to cap off his four-day visit here. He'd been in the capital city to attend informal NATO defense ministers' meetings.

Both leaders stressed that the global security environment has greatly changed since the end of the Cold War and the United States and NATO must prepare to deal with new, 21st century threats.

Today, Rumsfeld emphasized, terrorism, states that support terrorism, and weapons of mass destruction are the new bogeymen of peace. That's why, he noted, the United States is transforming its military to react more quickly to the specter of terrorism as personified by the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on America.

"As we've learned on Sept. 11, the world has changed . in ominous ways," Rumsfeld said. "Terrorist networks, terrorist states and weapons of mass destruction come together in a way that can cause unprecedented destruction to our cities, our people, and our way of life.

"This alliance has come a long distance since last Sept. 11," he continued. "It is unified with respect to the global war on terrorism and its understanding of weapons of mass destruction and terrorist networks as the most serious threat to the alliance."

Yesterday, a senior U.S. Central Intelligence Agency official briefed NATO members here on Iraq, and its relationship with terrorists and WMDs. Robertson called the facts in that briefing "compelling."

In Warsaw, Rumsfeld also urged NATO members to transform their militaries to become more agile to confront the dual threats of terrorism and chemical, biological, and nuclear WMDs. He reported in a Sept. 24 press briefing that NATO's response to his proposal had been "overwhelming" and positive.

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