SLUG: 2-272294 US-Britain Missille defense DATE: NOTE NUMBER:




TITLE=U-S Britain - Missile Defense (L only)

BYLINE=Deborah Tate

DATELINE=White House



INTRO: Britain says it hopes the new Bush administration will consult with Russia before building a national missile defense system. British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook made the comments after meeting with U-S National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice at the White House. Critics of the program - including particularly Russia - believe it could spark a new arms race. Correspondent Deborah Tate reports from the White House.

Text: President Bush has indicated he is committed to moving ahead with the national missile defense system, even if it means abandoning the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty.

Russia fears the program could undermine nuclear deterrance.

Emerging from his White House meeting, British Foreign Secretary Cook said Britain would like to see the Bush administration make good on a pledge to consult with Russia about the proposed missile shield.


It should be possible to persuade Russia that this is not in any way destabilizing to Russia and should go ahead on the basis of an accommodation with Russia. We would very much want to see that happen.

/// END ACT ///

Mr. Bush telephoned Russian President Vladimir Putin last week as part of a series of phone calls to world leaders since coming to office January 20th. White House officials would not say if the two men discussed missile defense.

The United States maintains the proposed missile defense system is aimed at thwarting missiles fired by countries like Iraq or North Korea. It is an argument echoed by Mr. Cook as he tried to do his part to allay Russian concerns


The proposed national missile defense is not in any way a threat to Russia. The Russian nuclear arsenal is not in contention with the kind of threat to which the national missile defense is a response. It is a response to rogue states which will have a much smaller arsenal than Russia.

/// END ACT ///

Mr. Cook, who met with Secretary of State Colin Powell Tuesday, told reporters U-S British relations are off to what he called "a flying start" under Bush's new administration.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who had a close friendship with former President Clinton, will meet with Mr. Bush in two weeks. (signed)