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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Rumsfeld Asks Senate to Support Nuke Reduction Treaty

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 17, 2002 -- The Moscow Treaty that calls for the United States and Russia to cut offensive nuclear weapons signifies a new way of the former enemies to do business, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Rumsfeld said the treaty is an example of President Bush's desire to put the hostility and distrust of the Cold War behind and "to set our two nations on a course toward greater cooperation."

The Senate must ratify the treaty for it to take effect. The Moscow Treaty calls on the United States and Russia to reduce offensive nuclear arsenals to between 1,700 and 2,200 warheads over the next decade.

Rumsfeld called these weapons "a legacy of the past" and are no longer needed when Russia and the United States are basing their relationship on one of increasing friendship and cooperation rather than a fear of mutual annihilation.

Rumsfeld said the U.S.-Russia relationship is strong and getting stronger. "In little more than a year, President Bush has defied the critics and set in motion a fundamental transformation in U.S.-Russian relationships," he said, "one that is designed to benefit the people of both of our nations and indeed the world."

Rumsfeld said the new relationship between the two countries requires new thinking. "We need to recalibrate our thinking and our approaches in respect to this relationship," he said. In both countries there are many who want adversarial relationships of the Cold War to continue. Leaders in both governments must change the way they view each other.

Rumsfeld said the guiding principle is the United States should deal with Russia "the same way we deal with other countries in a spirit of friendship and cooperation."

The proposed reductions are a reflection of the new relationship. He said while the reductions are remarkable, the process to get to these reductions was equally remarkable. "After a careful review, President Bush simply announced his intention to cut our stocks of operationally deployed nuclear warheads," Rumsfeld said. This number grew out of the Defense Department's Nuclear Posture Review. After the Bush announcement, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a similar reduction.

"When (Bush and Putin) met in Moscow, they recorded these unilateral changes in a treaty that will survive their two presidencies - the Moscow Treaty that the Senate will now consider."

The process was so different from past arms control negotiations. "We did not engage in lengthy adversarial negotiations in which the U.S. would keep thousands of weapons it did not need as a bargaining chip, and Russia did the same," Rumsfeld said. "We did not establish standing negotiating teams in Geneva, with armies of arms control aficionados ready to do battle over every colon and every comma. If we had done so, we would still be negotiating today."

The defense secretary contrasted the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty of 1991 with the Moscow Treaty. The START Treaty is 700 pages long and required nine years to negotiate. "The Moscow Treaty was concluded in the summer, took some six months to negotiate and is three pages long," he said.

He said both the United States and Russia are working toward the day when no arms control treaties will be necessary between the United States and Russia. "That's how normal countries deal with each other," he said. The United States and Great Britain - both nuclear powers - do not require massive arms control protocols to govern relations, Rumsfeld said. "We would like the relationship with Russia to move in that direction, and indeed, it is."

Rumsfeld said the U.S. reduction would occur over the next decade. The United States would make these reductions in nuclear arms even without the treaty. As such, U.S. officials felt there was no need for verifying instruments in the Moscow Treaty. The treaty also does not set yearly goals. Rumsfeld said this gives the United States the flexibility needed to manage the nuclear arsenal.

Rumsfeld also addressed the complaint that, because the Moscow Treaty does not contain a requirement to destroy warheads, it is somehow reversible "and therefore not real." No other agreement has required the destruction of warheads, he said.

The complaint is based on a flawed premise "that irreversible reductions in nuclear weapons are possible," he said. He said there is no such thing. Nations can always reverse the trend; it is just a matter of how many resources they wish to dedicate to the effort.

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