I wish to thank BMDO and our hosts for giving me this third consecutive opportunity to address this annual multinational conference on theater missile defense.
The 52nd session of the Standing Consultative Commission convened three weeks ago. I can honestly tell you that I did not know that I would be back negotiating in Geneva until I heard President Clinton state in his April 21 summit joint press conference with President Boris Yeltsin in Moscow that they had decided to send their experts to Geneva to complete work on a lower-velocity demarcation agreement with the aim of concluding an initial demarcation agreement this June.
At the summit, the Presidents agreed to separate an initial demarcation agreement dealing with low-velocity theater missile defense systems from follow-on discussions of higher-velocity TMD systems. So, our goal is to complete an initial agreement, as well as the documents on succession, this session.
The pace in codifying these agreements has been intense. Progress has been achieved, but there is more work to do. Using that proverbial phrase, I can tell you that I am cautiously optimistic, with the emphasis on optimistic. There are no guarantees. But the state of play in Geneva today, measured against that which existed 18 months ago, provides fair expectation for success. If my optimism is borne out in the remaining negotiating time of this session, it could be said that today we are truly on the verge of demonstrating that the ABM Treaty can be successfully adapted to new challenges and circumstances.
The road traveled to get to where we are today has been bumpy. Let me describe that path, beginning with U.S. policy from the top-down. President Clinton reaffirmed with President Yeltsin at their May 1995 summit that the ABM Treaty remained a cornerstone of strategic stability and that both countries must have the option to establish and deploy effective theater missile defense systems. This Administration is convinced that we can preserve the ABM Treaty and the massive reductions in offensive nuclear arsenals achieved by the START Treaties, while also fielding the ballistic missile defenses we need.
To accomplish these goals, the President directed in 1993 that the ABM Treaty should be multilateralized with Russia and the other potential USSR successor states, and updated to clarify the distinction -- or demarcation -- between theater ballistic missile defenses not limited by the Treaty and strategic ballistic missile defenses that are limited by the Treaty. These issues, in particular the clarification of the Treaty, have been the subject of negotiation for the past two and one-half years in the Standing Consultative Commission and in complementary political-level discussions between the U.S. and Russian governments.
As I reported to this conference a year ago, initially in 1994 the United States and Russia were able to identify a foundation of shared goals and agreed approaches relating to (1) the need for effective TMD, (2) the nature of the threat, (3) the appropriate limits on ballistic target missile range and velocity, and (4) confidence-building measures. However, a major area of dispute arose over the performance capabilities of TMD interceptors, and especially the question of future highly-capable TMD systems, or so-called higher-velocity systems.
This impasse and efforts to overcome it were the subjects of an intense, high-level political-level dialogue on demarcation during 1995. The Joint Summit Statement of May 1995 set forth an agreed set of principles that has provided the basis for subsequent discussion and negotiation of the demarcation agreement. Those principles made clear that we are not trying to apply the Treaty to TMD systems that may simply have a theoretical capability against some strategic missiles but which would not be militarily significant in the context of operational considerations such as deployments, system characteristics and realistic engagement scenarios.
Those principles provided the political basis for further discussions with Russia on reaching a concrete basis for resuming negotiations in the SCC. Last November in London and during the April summit, bilateral consultations resulted in a pragmatic approach for resolving the demarcation problem by means of a twophase approach. First, the sides would record and implement those portions of the demarcation issue on which the sides were in agreement. The more difficult demarcation questions would be deferred to subsequent political-level discussions.
The core of this initial agreement confirmed by the Presidents in April is that all TMD systems with an interceptor velocity not exceeding 3 kilometers per second could be tested against a ballistic target missile with a range no greater than 3,500 kilometers or a velocity no greater than 5 kilometers per second.
It was also agreed that this initial demarcation agreement would include confidence-building measures (CBMs). These CBMs, which will include data exchanges and advance notification of TMD test launches, are intended to fulfill the May 1995 joint principle that neither side's TMD systems will pose a realistic threat to the other side's strategic nuclear force by increasing confidence that the sides' TMD programs are consistent with stated intentions.
In Geneva now, we are working hard to complete the details of this initial lower-velocity TMD agreement. The critics have voiced concerns that this agreement or its follow-on would unduly constrain the capabilities of our TMD systems for protecting against existing and future threats. The initial demarcation agreement does not represent a "speed limit" on TMD, as sometimes charged. This demarcation agreement we expect to sign will confirm that all of our lower-velocity TMD systems, regardless of any theoretical, or inherent capability, are deemed to be compliant with the ABM Treaty.
At the same time, the Administration is also committed to the development of more capable and (potentially) higher-velocity TMD. In the absence of any further agreement, the United States will continue the practice, consistent with the ABM Treaty, of making its own compliance determinations. This will remain a national responsibility, as has been the case since the Treaty entered into force in 1972. Thus, in our view, the lower-velocity demarcation agreement can enter into force without prejudice to the ultimate resolution of issues related to higher-velocity TMD systems.
This is the history of how we got to where we are today on TMD.
In addition to TMD, the development and deployment of national missile defense for protection of the United States has recently become a hotly debated topic that could, at some point, affect the work of the SCC. The Administration is opposed to the Republican leadership bill that would mandate NMD deployment, with an explicit architecture, by the year 2003.
The plan outlined in the bill is at a minimum premature. It would require a decision now to deploy a costly missile defense for the United States that could be obsolete tomorrow. It is designed as a response to a threat that does not yet exist, and it could undermine the arms control agreements that make us more secure. As President Clinton has stated, this is the wrong way to defend America. In his words, "the right way to defend America includes eliminating weapons of mass destruction, stopping this dread, and building a smart missile defense system."
A smart NMD policy is that which the Administration is following -- a prudent, responsible course that defers a deployment decision until such time that there is a real-world, long-range, ballistic missile capability possessed by a regime not subject to the normal rational laws of deterrence. We do not see a near-term threat to the United States from the so-called rogue nations, but we cannot be complacent about that; and we are not.
Last February, Secretary Perry announced the results of a six month study of the DoD's Ballistic Missile Defense program. That review started a National Missile Defense Deployment Readiness program with a proposed funding profile that would enable the United States to develop within three years, elements of an initial NMD system that could be deployed within three years of a deployment decision.
There would be no decision to deploy at this time, or necessarily in three years; however, the program would preserve thereafter a capability to deploy within three years, while allowing the United States to continue the advancement of technology, add new elements to the system and possibly reduce deployment timelines. The fact is that the longer you wait to make the deployment decision (if you can), the better technological options you have available and the more capable your NMD.
Finally, a "smart" NMD policy does not entail abrogation of the ABM Treaty in order to deploy NMD and thereby put at risk the strategic offensive arms reductions process which -- along with prevention and deterrence -- is our first line of defense against ballistic missiles. Equally important, the Administration does not accept the notion that the ABM Treaty does not have enough flexibility or elasticity to accommodate certain kinds of NMD systems. I must emphasize that development of the NMD program would comply with the ABM Treaty.
The Administration's approach to BMD is guided by the principles enunciated by the President on April 21 of this year: "The United States should keep its treaty commitments. If we expect Russia to keep its treaty commitments, we have to keep ours."
In summary, why are both missile defenses and a viable ABM Treaty so important? They are both in our nation's vital security interests. Missile defenses and the Treaty are two critical components of an even larger host of programs, agreements, diplomatic initiatives, and policies which, taken together, make for a safer world.
President Clinton framed that larger picture in hisaddress to the U.S. Coast Guard Academy graduating class on May 22nd. Speaking of the new millenium, he said we must continue to seize the extraordinary opportunity to reduce the threat of weapons of mass destruction. He described the most far-reaching arms control and nonproliferation agenda in history, and expressed his determination to pursue it and complete it.
As the President stated, we are cutting our arsenals by two-thirds from their Cold War height. Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakstan have been convinced to give up their nuclear weapons. In fact, the last of the nuclear warheads were withdrawn from Ukraine to Russia on June 1. The North Korean nuclear program is frozen, the indefinite extension of the NPT and the chemical weapons convention were achieved, and we are on the doorstep of completing a comprehensive test ban treaty. There are no Russian missiles pointed at our cities or our citizens. The President concluded that "All of these things are focused on reducing the threat of weapons of mass destruction."
But, he went on to explain that we also have to be prepared to defend ourselves in the extremely unlikely event that these preventive measures fail. Defending ourselves is a vital national security interest. The initial TMD demarcation agreement being concluded now in Geneva will serve that vital interest. This agreement will ensure that our TMD programs can go forward, and in a way that will strengthen the ABM Treaty. By proceeding in a cooperative fashion, it will help us realize the benefits of the strategic nuclear reductions mandated by the START Treaties.
In my judgment, that is "smart" arms control and security policy. Thank you.