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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

16 January 2002

Transcript: DOD Briefing on U.S.-Russia Strategic Force Talks

(Briefers: Defense Department's Douglas Feith, J.D. Crouch) (3280)
The United States and Russia are continuing to work on a new way of
looking at international strategic stability, a Defense Department
official told journalists in a briefing January 16 at the conclusion
of two days of talks at the Pentagon with a Russian delegation.
Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith said the meetings
focused on "practical ideas for cooperation" between the United States
and Russia in such areas as counter-proliferation, offensive nuclear
force reduction, transparency and predictability measures, military
technical cooperation, and counter-terrorism work. Military technical
cooperation, Feith said, "would include things like cooperating in the
field of missile defense."
J.D. Crouch, the assistant secretary of defense for international
security policy, said the United States wants to develop with Russia
"a more cooperative relationship, where we on a regular basis are
exchanging information on these things in the way that we exchange
information with other friends and allies."
The new strategic concept, Feith said, needs to be based on the
recognition that the threats faced by Russia and the United States are
"not each other at all. The threats that we face are threats from
terrorist organizations or from third parties ... some of them are
actual, like the terrorist threat that we're dealing with right now,
and some of them are potential and will depend on how the world
Following is a DOD transcript:
(begin transcript)
United States Department of Defense
DoD News Briefing
Wednesday, January 16, 2002 - 2 p.m. EST
Feith: Good afternoon. I assume that many of you, if not most of you,
were at the discussion that we just had outside with General
Baluyevskiy, so I don't know if I need to start with any
preliminaries. But I'll simply say that we just concluded our two days
of meetings with the Russian delegation, and we have explored the
range of issues that we've been discussing for the last six or seven
months in creating a new U.S.-Russian relationship. The meetings
focused on practical ideas for cooperation between the United States
and Russia in a number of areas: counterproliferation, offensive
nuclear force reduction, transparency and predictability measures,
military technical cooperation, which would include things like
cooperating in the field of missile defense, counter-terrorism work,
which as you all know we've been engaged in with the Russian
Federation since September 11th. And we agreed to set up a number of
working groups to cover various areas of our common interest to see if
we can identify new types of cooperation and agreements that we might
want to develop and record and recommend up for possible consideration
by, in the first instance, the ministers -- Secretary Rumsfeld and
Minister Ivanov -- and then up to the presidents for their meeting in
With that, I'll be happy to take your questions.
Question: Your reference to transparency and all that there sounds
like provisions of START I. So is it possible and have you discussed
and is it likely that you might just take those provisions and
duplicate them in some form to cover new arrangements?
And secondly, when you talk about nonproliferation, of course, the
Iran bell goes off in my head. Did you get on their case again, which
would have been about the 12th time over the last several years about
their technology transfers to Iran?
Feith: The ideas about predictability and transparency are going to
draw on established arrangements like START I, as you suggested. But
we're not confining ourselves to START I.
And we have -- there's a willingness to look at everything afresh, and
there are ideas, I think, that we're going to be developing, that
don't exist in any previous arrangements, any previous arms control
agreements. We are not thinking of what we're doing as an exercise in
arms control. We're -- we think of the Cold War-style arms control as
related, as institutionalizing the kind of hostile relationship that
the United States and the Soviet Union had in the Cold War. And we're
not looking to get echoes of that, and we're not looking to recreate
arms control-style negotiations or agreements.
We do think that there are useful things that we can do so that the
possibilities of misunderstanding about each other's force structures
are reduced, and that's what we are driving at when we talk about
transparency and predictability.
Q: Does that mean, then, that the agreements you're talking about --
(inaudible) -- closer to being joint communiqués rather than legally
binding documents? And would one of those agreements deal with actual
numbers of operationally deployed offensive weapons, the size of the
responsive force, very specific things like that?
Feith: We had discussions about what kind of form an agreement might
take, and there's a long list of forms that agreements that the United
States has entered into with other countries has taken, from the most
formal, like treaties, down through executive agreements and memoranda
of understanding and joint communiqués and joint statements and the
Our view is, we are interested in exploring what it is we can agree on
that would be useful, that would contribute to the interests of both
Once we decide what it is that we've agreed on, we will pick the
appropriate forum for it. We're completely open-minded on the subject,
and we're not ruling anything in, we're not ruling anything out. We're
taking a very pragmatic approach.
Q: I'm sorry, I asked a two-part. Did you talk to the Russians about
transfers to Iran?
Feith: I don't want to get into details and the substance of our
discussions. I just want to -- I'd rather keep it a little more
Q: But can you just say that you've discussed Iran? I mean, you said
you discussed missile defense, so why can't you say if the topic of
Iran came up?
Feith: We discussed in general terms the danger that weapons of mass
destruction in the hands of terrorist organizations or state sponsors
of terrorism would pose.
Q: Can we say that you and Mr. Baluyevskiy agreed to disagree on this
issue of American plans not to destroy but to stockpile some portion
of American strategic nuclear warheads?
Feith: No, I wouldn't say that. We didn't get to the point of even
agreeing to disagree. What we did was we laid out a concept of how we
could work and set up a structure for exploring areas of cooperation
and agreement in a number of fields.
Q:  Would one of these working groups be working on this issue?
Feith:  The issue of offensive nuclear force reductions?
Q:  Sure.
Feith: What I was referring to before on promoting transparency and
predictability would relate to the offensive nuclear force reductions.
Q: Does this mean that a bilateral nuclear arms reduction agreement is
on the table? Is this something you're considering or would consider?
Feith: As I said, we would consider an agreement that would deal with
the subject of the offensive force reductions from the point of view
of making sure that we understand each other's force structure and our
plans for our force structure. And if we can come up with measures
that will promote that understanding, reduce the dangers of
misunderstanding or miscalculation about that, we'd be willing to
consider an agreement on that.
Q: The areas in which we don't agree, these issues seem to be very
important for the Russians. How will you keep those from getting in
the way of the relationship?
Feith: We have been building a relationship with the Russians on a
very practical basis. We have a number of areas where we are working
together. Clearly, the event -- the attack on September 11th has
accelerated the process of Americans and Russians working together to
deal with threats that face both countries.
And what we have been cultivating with the Russians is a new way of
looking at international strategic stability. We've been suggesting
that the old concept -- the Cold War concept that strategic stability
for us is fundamentally a matter of protecting ourselves against
Russia or against the Soviet Union, and that that's -- and their view
is protecting themselves against us -- that that is no longer the way
to think about strategic stability in the world today, because the
United States and Russia are not enemies. We are not hostile. And the
threats that we face are not primarily each other -- I mean, arguably,
they're not each other at all. The threats that we face are threats
from terrorist organizations or from third parties that -- some of
them are actual, like the terrorist threat that we're dealing with
right now, and some of them are potential and will depend on how the
world develops.
What we are looking to do with the Russians is develop a view of
security that allows us to work together to deal with threats that
face both of us and not be thinking of each other as the enemy. And
it's a process. The -- there is an enormous investment that people
have made over decades in Cold War thinking. And there is, as you all
know, a "priesthood" that has focused on arms control notions and
strategic stability concepts during the Cold War. And it is very hard
for people who have invested decades of intellectual energy and, for
that matter, emotional energy, in these kinds of strategic concepts,
to abandon them and think about these issues in a new way.
But the world has changed, and the old way of thinking about strategic
stability is just not applicable anymore. And if there was much of a
debate of -- about that six or seven months ago, there shouldn't be
much now, since September 11th.
And yet we find in the United States and in Russia there's a certain
amount of "old" thinking that needs to be either addressed or
navigated around in order to create the kind of cooperative new
relationship that I think many people on the Russian side and on the
American side want to achieve.
Q: What's the status of START II now? And also, could you give some
examples of the kinds of measures that you're thinking of that could
lead to predictability and transparency?
Feith:  Well, why don't I let Dr. Crouch address those?
Crouch: Well, as you know, START II is not in force. And I think that
that -- that's a position that's recognized on both the American side
and the Russian side. And our Nuclear Posture Review was conducted in
the context of START II not being in force, and the nuclear levels to
which we are going to be reducing go far below the levels that would
have been required under START II. So in that context, I mean, I think
we have sort of moved beyond START II, is probably the best way to --
setting it aside and have moved beyond it.
In terms of transparency and predictability, we start with the
foundation of the START I verification regime, and we're going to try
to build on that in a series of additional arrangements and
agreements, things that could include more detailed exchanges of
information, visits to particular sites, additional kinds of
inspections, additional kinds of activities at sites that would be
able to give more confidence, and particularly that are more
applicable to the approach of verifying reductions of operationally
deployed systems. We're now -- we are now, you know, looking at sort
of a truth-in-advertising approach here, which is that the number of
weapons we're trying to verify, if you will, are the exact numbers of
weapons that will be on these systems.
Now we're not going to be able to do that within -- in extremely
specific ways. But I think that we're going to be able to provide
confidence to the Russians -- and they will be able to provide
confidence to us -- that our forces are in this range of 1,700 to
2,200 operationally deployed systems. We envision regularized data
exchanges. We envision cooperative -- what we call in the business
"cooperative measures," things that we might be able to do that they
could observe with their national technical means and things they
could do that we could observe with our national technical means -- so
essentially expanding the range of these activities in a way where
both sides can have greater confidence as we move forward.
But you know, the key distinction here, from our standpoint, is that
we don't see this as verifying limits of an arms control treaty. What
we're trying to do here is develop a more cooperative relationship,
where we on a regular basis are exchanging information on these things
in the way that we exchange information with other friends and allies.
Q: Would the predictability part of it include measures or agreements
on a schedule for reducing nuclear weapons?
Feith: We -- yes, we would intend to have a general understanding --
we've begun the process by developing the Nuclear Posture Review, and
we briefed the Russians on it. We would expect to have a general
understanding of where we're going to be going with our force posture
and making sure that the Russians understand it.
But the key point is -- and it's -- it can't be emphasized enough --
the premise of this exercise is different from the premise of arms
control exercises in the Cold War. The premise of this exercise is not
that we have to balance our forces or categories of our forces against
corresponding categories of forces on the Russian side. That's not
what we're doing. It's -- we do not believe that our security hinges
on having these numbers balanced against those numbers of this type of
system or their type of system. That's just not the concept. If we are
not enemies and if we are not threatening each other and -- even
better -- if we are cooperating, then we are moving toward a situation
where we do not view their forces as a threat to us. There are other
countries in the world that have substantial military forces, and
nobody dreams of saying that the United States should be balancing our
forces against those of Country A, Country B, or Country C.
And our hope is that we can create a normal relationship with Russia,
the kind of relationship that we have with countries all around the
world, where they have conventional and in some cases nuclear
capabilities, but we have the kind of quality of relationship with
them that we don't think that our security requires us to balance our
forces against theirs. That's the goal. And that's why, when we talk
about measures of predictability or cooperation or transparency with
the Russians, we're doing it based on this new concept, not based on
the old balance-of-nuclear-terror ideas from the Cold War.
Q: It seems, though, that you might be -- it seems you might be alone
in that. From what we heard from the Russian general outside, they do
want those nuclear weapons to be permanently eliminated, and they do
seem to want the precepts of the NTR codified somehow in something
that's legally binding. So what's keeping you from doing that, if this
is what they want and you have such a cooperative relationship?
Feith: I'm glad you used the term "permanently eliminated," because
there is a big misunderstanding about this point. There were arms
control agreements during the Cold War that were praised
enthusiastically for having reduced nuclear arms. SALT I, START I, the
INF -- well, the INF treaty is, I guess, is another example where none
of those agreements required the destruction of warheads. And there's
been a lot of talk that what we're proposing in reducing operationally
deployed weapons is somehow not as thorough-going a reduction as what
was accomplished by arms control agreements in past decades. It's not
so. And I think it is important that people be straight on this.
People are now focused on a new issue, and they're criticizing the
reductions that we're talking about even though that same criticism
could have been leveled against various people's favorite arms control
agreements in the past. We are doing something significant in reducing
operationally deployed warheads -- operationally deployed systems.
And this issue about permanent reduction is, I think, a red herring.
Q: But that's what he said he wanted. I mean, that's in -- "We are
following the principle that all nuclear weapons should be destroyed"
is a direct quote from what he said. So if you have this new
cooperative relationship, why not give them what they want?
Feith: We have discussions with the Russians on a range of issues.
There are some things that they're interested in, and principles that
they want to promulgate, and there are other things that we're
interested in and principles that we want to promulgate, and some of
the things we disagree with and some of the things we agree with. And
we're going to be trying to develop a clearer understanding of the
things that we agree on and move forward from there.
Q: A different issue. Have the Russians -- or do the Russians give any
indications of concern for the apparent U.S. digging in the Central
Asia region for a long-term presence after the war in Afghanistan is
Feith:  We didn't discuss that.
Q: On that subject, can you give us a sense of kind of the conceptual
thinking going on right now at -- (word inaudible) -- in terms of what
a U.S. future presence in Central Asia may take?
Feith: We are focused on completing our work in Afghanistan. And what
we're dealing with in the Central Asian region more broadly is all in
the service of completing our work in Afghanistan, which means
destroying the remaining al Qaeda and Taliban pockets and contributing
to the kind of situation in Afghanistan, when the military operations
are over, that will give us a reasonable basis for hoping that
Afghanistan is not going to become a base of operations for terrorists
in the future. And there are operations that we're doing right now in
the humanitarian field -- delivering food, helping repair roads and
the like, contributing to support for the international security
assistance force and the like, those operations require us to have a
logistics base in the region. And so our work of the type that you
referred to is designed to allow us to do those kinds of things so
that we can complete our mission in Afghanistan.
Q: Well you're not preparing, then -- or are you just starting to look
at whether, you know, five years from now we need some kind of
infrastructure there or pre-positioned equipment or possibly manned
Feith: As I said, we retain interest in the area and making sure that
Afghanistan and the region in general is not a base for terrorism. And
there are a lot of things that one needs to do, military and
non-military, to contribute to that purpose. And we want to have the
kind of presence in the region that allow us -- that allows us to do
the range of things we need to. And some of the presence may be
military, but some of the presence Maya be diplomatic, and some of it
may be, you know, focusing more on economic development and the like.
Thank you.
(end transcript)
(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

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