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Office of the Press Secretary
September 1, 2000
National Missile Defense
The Clinton Administration is committed to the development of a
limited National Missile Defense (NMD) system designed to protect all
50 states from the emerging ballistic missile threat from nations that
threaten international peace and security. In the event of an attack,
American satellites would detect the launch of missiles; radar would
track the enemy warheads; and highly accurate, high-speed ground-based
interceptors would destroy missiles before they reach targets in the
United States.
President Clinton announced today that the NMD program is sufficiently
promising and affordable to justify continued development and testing,
but that there is not sufficient information about the technical and
operational effectiveness of the entire NMD system to move forward
with deployment.
In making this decision, the President considered the threat, the
cost, technical feasibility and the impact overall on our national
security of proceeding with NMD. He considered a thorough technical
review by the Department of Defense as well as the advice of his top
national security advisors.
The Pentagon has made progress on developing a system that can address
the emerging missile threat. But we do not have sufficient information
to conclude that it can work reliably under realistic conditions.
Critical elements of the program, such as the booster rocket for the
missile interceptor, have not been tested; and there are questions to
be resolved about the ability of the system to deal with
countermeasures. The President made clear we should not move forward
until we have further confidence that the system will work and until
we have made every reasonable diplomatic effort to minimize the costs.
The Pentagon will continue the development and testing of the NMD
system. That effort is still at an early stage: three of the 19
planned intercept tests have been held so far. Additional ground tests
and simulations will also take place.
The development of our NMD is part of the Administration's
comprehensive national security strategy to prevent potential
adversaries from threatening the United States with such weapons and
acquiring the weapons in the first place.
Arms control agreements with Russia are an important part of this
strategy because they ensure stability and predictability between the
United States and Russia, promote the dismantling of nuclear weapons,
and help complete the transition from confrontation to cooperation
with Russia. The Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty of 1972 limits
anti-missile defenses according to a simple principle: neither side
should deploy defenses that would undermine the other's nuclear
deterrent, and thus tempt the other to strike first in a crisis or
take countermeasures that would make both our countries less secure.
This announcement will provide additional time to pursue with Russia
the goal of adapting the ABM Treaty to permit the deployment of a
limited NMD that would not undermine strategic stability. The United
States will also continue to consult with Allies and continue the
dialogue with China and other states.
Last August, the President decided that the initial NMD architecture
would include: 100 ground-based interceptors deployed in Alaska, one
ABM radar in Alaska, and five upgraded early warning radars.
This approach is the fastest, most affordable, and most
technologically mature approach to fielding an effective NMD against
the projected threat. It would protect all 50 states against emerging
threats from both North Korea and the Middle East and is optimized
against the most immediate and certain threat, North Korea.
On July 23, 1999, President Clinton signed into law H.R. 4, the
"National Missile Defense Act of 1999," stating that it is the policy
of the United States to deploy as soon as technologically possible an
effective NMD system. The legislation includes two amendments
supported by the Administration: the first making clear that any NMD
deployment must be subject to the authorization and appropriations
process, and thus that no decision on deployment has been made; the
second stating it is the policy of the United States to seek continued
negotiated reductions in Russian nuclear forces, putting Congress on
record as continuing to support negotiated reductions in strategic
nuclear arms, reaffirming the Administration's position that missile
defense policy must take into account important arms control and
nuclear nonproliferation objectives.
The Clinton Administration has spent approximately $5.7 billion on
NMD, and budgeted an additional $10.4 billion in FY 2001-2005 to
support possible deployment of the initial NMD architecture. Our
current estimate for developing, procuring and deploying our initial
system -- 100 interceptors, an ABM radar, upgrades to 5 early warning
radars, and command and control -- is around $25 billion (Fiscal Years
91-09). But to put that in perspective, it represents less than 1
percent of the defense budget over the coming six years.
At the June 4 Moscow summit, Presidents Clinton and Putin signed a
Joint Statement of Principles on Strategic Stability. The Principles
state that the international community faces a dangerous and growing
threat of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means
of delivery, including missiles and missile technologies, and that
there is a need to address these threats, including through
consideration of changes to the ABM Treaty. The Principles also record
agreement to intensify discussions on both ABM issues and START
(Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) III.
The United States has made clear to Russia that we are prepared to
engage in serious cooperation to address the emerging ballistic
missile threat and have identified a number of specific ideas for
discussion. At the June 4 Moscow Summit, Presidents Clinton and Putin
signed an agreement to establish a Joint Center for exchanging early
warning data on missile launches; they also agreed to explore more
far-reaching cooperation to address missile threats.
On July 21 in Okinawa, Presidents Clinton and Putin issued a Joint
Statement on Cooperation on Strategic Stability, which identifies
specific areas and projects for cooperation to control the spread of
missiles, missile technology and weapons of mass destruction.

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