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03 October 1997

[EXCERPT] TRANSCRIPT: STATE DEPARTMENT NOON BRIEFING, OCTOBER 3, 1997

BRIEFER:  JAMES P. RUBIN
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 3, 1997
INDEX
ARMS CONTROL
11-12 Dept. of Defense Laser Test/Not a Treaty Violation/Impact on
Passage of START II by Russia
.....................
Q: How does the State Department feel about the Pentagon's decision to
go ahead with the anti-satellite test?
RUBIN: Well, as you know, Carol, I have some familiarity with this
issue over the years and there is always going to be discussions back
and forth on a subject like this. But having checked with our people,
I have no reason to believe that we here in the Department had any
specific problem with this test.
The reason is that the kind of test that it is doesn't pose any
problem with becoming an anti-ballistic missile system and this
experiment does not violate any arms control agreement. As you know,
there is no anti-satellite treaty, other international law, or US
domestic law. It is an experiment. It is designed to collect data that
will help improve computer models used for planning protection
measures for US satellites.
This is not a test of an anti-satellite system. This experiment will
not destroy the satellite, will not result in any orbital debris, and
will not pose any risk to other satellites. Furthermore, this laser,
as I said, does not have an ABM capability. We, therefore, see, no
reason why this experiment should cause any problems with the Russians
or any other country. I can't rule out that officials in the State
Department might have asked some questions, but this is an experiment
that we don't believe is anything but a good use of research and
development funds.
Q: Well, as the Secretary has argued in the case of the Middle East,
where there is a climate of distrust or at least there is a problem or
some tension, sometimes even things that seem to be in other
situations maybe benign, in certain environments, they are viewed more
as greater tension-producers. And I just wondered, given the fact that
you're having so much trouble getting the START II treaty through the
Russian Duma and that there are elements in the political ferment of
Russia that are concerned about the ABM treaty and what the United
States may be doing in terms of missile defenses, do you believe this
is the right time for this kind of a test?
RUBIN: Today is, what, Friday? Last Friday the Secretary of State and
the Foreign Minister of Russia signed two arms control agreements --
one very important one on the ABM treaty and how to make sure that
anti-tactical ballistic missile defenses were permitted and strategic
defenses were prohibited. We have been working very, very well with
the Russians. There is no crisis of confidence in the relationship
between the U.S. and Russia. Frankly, Secretary Albright finds her
ability to work very closely with Foreign Minister Primakov one of the
true surprises and something she's very pleased about in her job.
So there isn't the kind of environment in this case that would lead to
the analogy that you were suggesting some might have. So we don't have
trouble with this test. As I said, it's not a test of an
anti-satellite system. It's an experiment that will not destroy the
satellite, will not result in any debris, will not pose any risk, and
we see no reason why it should be a problem, especially in an
environment where things are moving forward with the Russians on
subjects like the ABM Treaty.
..............
(end transcript)




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