June 21, 1994


I would like to thank the organizers of this conference for affording me the opportunity to make some brief and informal remarks about the ABM Treaty. I am led to believe this is the first time a Standing Consultative Commission (SCC) Commissioner has addressed this annual conference on theater missile defense. Not so long ago the ABM Treaty and missile defense were viewed as being at odds with one another. The supporters of the ABM Treaty were antagonistic to ballistic missile defense, and the advocates of ballistic missile defense saw the ABM Treaty as an obstacle.

The Clinton Administration has sought to overcome this estrangement in both policy and process. So, I view my presence here this morning in part as symbolic of these efforts to bridge previously contradictory sets of goals, approaches and attitudes.

I want to provide an overview of the Clinton Administration policy toward the ABM Treaty -- that is, both the substance and the diplomatic process. There have been very significant developments in both areas. I want to inform you about its current health and about the relationship between the ABM Treaty and U.S. programs to develop and deploy theater missile defenses.

The ABM Treaty has been described by former ACDA director Gerard Smith as "the most fundamental arms agreement yet reached between the U.S. and the Soviet Union -- a critical component of U.S. security policy," and pronounced it "truly 'the foundation for the future'."

Such an assessment is fully justified by the past quarter century. By strictly limiting nationwide defenses against strategic ballistic missiles, it has prevented the kind of escalating arms race between offense and defense that has long characterized military technology in other fields.

In short, the ABM Treaty is the bedrock of strategic stability. It remains crucial to arms control, to the START I and START II reductions, and to longer-term strategic arms control opportunities.

The Clinton Administration has made significant course corrections from the approaches of previous administrations. This reorientation is not well understood; it has had the effect of putting the ABM Treaty back into the mainstream of our overall approach to missile defense. Recall that the Reagan-Bush policy was to separate missile defense development from ABM Treaty compliance. The Defense and Space forum was created to address ballistic missile defense negotiations. The focus of the SCC was compliance policy. This compliance agenda has been largely resolved or made obsolete by the end of the Cold War.

In July 1993, the Clinton Administration took an important step by affirming the "traditional" or "narrow" interpretation of the Treaty. This is the long-standing interpretation that the Treaty prohibits the development, testing, and deployment of sea-based, air-based, space-based, and mobile land-based ABM systems and components, regardless of the kind of technology used.

This traditional interpretation was a key predicate for the Administration's comprehensive review of missile defense policy. The Bottom-Up Review (BUR) resulted in a shift away from the goal of a national strategic missile defense. In today's changed security environment, the threat of even a limited strategic missile attack has decreased. But, at the same time, the danger posed by the proliferation of ballistic missiles among third countries outside the U.S. and the former Soviet Union has increased. Accordingly, our priorities are being redirected to defending against theater ballistic missile threats to our military forces overseas, allies and friends.

Just as this substantive reorientation of missile defense policy by the Clinton Administration was being completed, we also had to address the consequences for the Treaty of the break-up of the USSR. As the BUR was being completed, the regular Five-year ABM Treaty Review was held in Geneva from September 27 to October 1, 1993; The United States, Belarus, Russia and Ukraine participated, and Latvia attended as an observer. Attendance at the Treaty Review was without prejudice to final agreement on which state or states would be ABM Treaty parties. The Treaty Review was not held under the auspices of the SCC, but it addressed the issue of state succession to the Treaty, and it provided a forum for reaffirmation of the participant's commitment to the ABM Treaty.

At the ABM Treaty Review, the U.S. delegation, headed by ACDA Acting Director Tom Graham and Bob Bell, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Defense Policy and Arms Control, formally reaffirmed the United States commitment to the ABM Treaty and to efforts to ensure its viability and effectiveness. Belarus, Russia and Ukraine each emphasized the importance its government places on the issue of Treaty succession; each called for expeditious resolution of the issue. Each of the participating new independent states affirmed its understanding of the importance of the Treaty, and each expressed its commitment to the Treaty's continued viability in view of political and technological changes.

At the forty-fifth session of the SCC, convened last November and attended by Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine, the United States announced the results of its Bottom Up Review of missile defense; it presented the President's decisions on ABM Treaty succession and theater missile defenses (TMD). The United States formally announced its position that the ABM Treaty should be multilateralized. The United States, in light of the Administration's redirection of ballistic missile defense policy to give top priority to TMD, also presented its position on clarifying the demarcation between anti-ballistic missiles (ABM) and non-ABM systems. The United States also proposed that succession and TMD clarification be addressed and resolved in parallel.

At this time the United States formally withdrew past proposals to amend the ABM Treaty, including proposals regarding:

In the six months since the Fourth ABM Treaty Review, the issues of State Succession and ABM/TMD Demarcation have occupied the energies of the SCC in its negotiations which have brought the participants to Geneva for sessions in November/December, in January/February, and in March/April.

On the issue of State Succession to the Treaty there is general agreement on the basic principles. All of the New Independent States are regarded as potential Parties to the Treaty. Actual succession by any of the potential parties will require an affirmative, voluntary commitment by each of the successor States. There will almost certainly be a formal instrument which will record succession, the status and commitment of the Parties. The effect of succession will be to preserve the viability of the Treaty and the status quo ante of the rights and obligations of the former Soviet Union.

On the issue of ABM/non-ABM Demarcation, the U.S. has proposed clarification of the provisions of Article VI of the Treaty. The thrust of the U.S. proposal is to distinguish clearly the ABM systems, which are limited by the Treaty, from non-ABM systems which are not so limited. The original U.S. proposal focussed on the velocity of the target missile. ABM/non-ABM demarcation would derive from a definition of the threat our systems would be designed to defend against. Tests would be allowed only against target missiles representative of the legitimate TBM threat, and this would ensure that TMD systems would not be designed to counter strategic ballistic missiles.

There is consensus in the SCC on the characterization of the TMD threat and derivative target parameters. All participants understand that there is a shared interest in defending against this threat. There is agreement that the ABM Treaty must be clarified to allow for adequate theater missile defenses. Discussion continues on what other elements, if any, should be included in an agreement clarifying ABM/non-ABM demarcation. In the course of our negotiations, the original U.S. proposal has been discussion along with a broader set of proposed limits on such defensive systems that includes but goes beyond target missile velocity. The participants are discussing additional elements such as confidence-building measures to provide assurance that our respective TMD systems are not used for nationwide strategic defense.

Our commitment to a strong ABM Treaty must include ensuring that it can be adapted to new challenges and circumstances. Given its unlimited duration, we must make certain that new technologies and threats do not undermine its long-term viability. The need to clarify the ABM/ATBM demarcation is made timely by the prospect of third-country missile proliferation and the demonstrated willingness of aggressor states to target not just U.S. expeditionary forces, but to hold civilian populations hostage by targeting cities. This clarification is absolutely required, given the acknowledged ambiguity of the Treaty as it stands.

In any event, the overarching issue is preserving the United States option to respond to the emerging threats identified in the BUR -- within the context of a modernized ABM Treaty. The ABM Treaty must not come to be viewed as an obstacle to the development of necessary U.S. tactical defenses. Similarly, development, testing, and deployment of the TMD systems we need should not be pursued in a manner that undermines the ABM Treaty which is a proven pillar of strategic stability. Preserving the intentions of the ABM Treaty and fielding TMD are critical goals which need not be in conflict. Our task is to achieve both.

I know there has been a good deal of speculation with regard to the on-going negotiations in the SCC. I hope these necessarily brief remarks at the unclassified level will make clear that we are vigorously pursuing an approach that carefully balances on the one hand the need to preserve the ABM Treaty as strong and viable in its fundamental role in arms control and arms reduction, and on the other hand the need to negotiate a demarcation between ABM and TMD systems which will allow us to pursue important defense requirements.