1997 Congressional Hearings
Special Weapons
Nuclear, Chemical, Biological and Missile


Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on International Security,
Proliferation, and Federal Services

"National Missile Defense and the ABM Treaty"

May 1, 1997

Opening Statement

I'd like to welcome everyone to today's hearing of the Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on International Security, Proliferation, and Federal Services. Our topic today is "National Missile Defense and the ABM Treaty."

The administration's plan for national missile defense -- the "3+3" program-- appears to have serious problems, one of which is the possible conflict with provisions of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.

Legislation calling for the deployment of national missile defense has been criticized by the administration for allegedly requiring violation of the ABM Treaty. For example, commenting on the 1996 Defense Authorization bill -which the President vetoed -- former Secretary of Defense William Perry said it would have "put us on a pathway to abrogate the ABM Treaty...". Ashton Carter, former Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy, said the bill "obliges us to violate or ignore the ABM Treaty." And President Clinton, in explaining why he would veto last year's Defend America Act, said it would "violate the arms control agreements that we have made and that make us more secure."

The administration said that its 3+3 NMD plan contrasted sharply with past Republican proposals. The 3+3 plan, according to some administration spokesmen, was better because it could defend America from limited ballistic missile attack without violating the ABM Treaty. Secretary Perry told the Senate that "there is nothing we are doing now or planning to do which would be in violation of the ABM Treaty." Lieutenant General O'Neill, then Director of the Ballistic Missile

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Defense Organization, said that "within the confines of the language of the ABM Treaty, we can and will build missile defenses to meet our national security needs." And in an August 1995 letter to the editor of USA Today recommending a veto of the Senate NMD proposal, Robert Bell of the National Security Council staff said that the Pentagon's 3+3 plan "complies with the ABM Treaty and does not threaten to undo our strategic arms agreement...".

Now the administration seems to be changing its story, by saying that only the development phase of the NMD program will be ABM Treaty-compliant while the system ultimately deployed "might require modification of the Treaty." The recent DoD request for proposals for the 3+3 lead systems integrator contract states that "treaty compliance of the deployed NMD system is not a requirement and will not be evaluated as part of the source selection process." Members of this subcommittee were recently told by the Director of BMDO that, contrary to previous administration statements, all of the 3+3 options under consideration by the administration pose ABM Treaty problems.

These recent statements indicate the administration realizes that its own plan to protect America from ballistic missile attack, even a limited attack, could be in conflict with the 25-year-old ABM Treaty. In today's hearing, we will examine the extent to which 3+3 proposals are compatible with the ABM Treaty and the administration's plan for addressing any incompatibilities.

If negotiations to modify the ABM Treaty are part of that plan, we would like to know what provisions have been made for these negotiations in the 3+3 program schedule. This is particularly important given the failure -- after 3 1/2 years of negotiations -- to reach agreement on a clarification of the ABM Treaty regarding theater missile defenses.

Today, we are pleased to welcome to this hearing Mr. John Holum, Director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency. Mr. Holum heads the agency responsible for negotiating, implementing, and verifying the nation's arms control agreements, and we will benefit from both his expertise on treaty issues and his experience directing arms control negotiations.

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End of Opening Statement