Presenter: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld Thursday, October 25, 2001 - 12:14 p.m. EDT DoD News Briefing - Secretary Rumsfeld and Gen. Myers

We've been awakened in recent weeks to new and previously unimaginable dangers. That is why as we prosecute today's war on terrorism, the president has made clear that we also need to be prepared to defend against other emerging asymmetric threats, including the threat of ballistic missile attack against our cities and people.

As you know, we've redesigned the U.S. ballistic missile defense research, development and testing program so that -- to be unconstrained by the ABM Treaty, a treaty that, of course, was left over from the Cold War, and after September 11th, is even less relevant today.

We have said we will not violate the treaty while it remains in force. In recent days, to keep from having it suggested that we might not be keeping that commitment, we have voluntarily restrained our ballistic missile defense test program.

Specifically, the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization has refrained from conducting several test activities, each of which some lawyers could debate might have been a violation of the treaty, were we to have proceeded.

As we all know, treaties and most legal documents have vagueness to them. We've said we won't violate it; therefore, we do not want to be in a position of having a small minority of people suggesting that we in fact are violating it. So we have, on the following instances, decided not to go forward:

On October 24th, an Aegis radar on a surface ship was scheduled to track a strategic ballistic missile test target, which it did not do. In a separate operation, the Aegis radar was to have tracked a Titan II space-launch vehicle scheduled for launch November 14th. During the October 24th test, the Aegis radar was scheduled to have tracked the defensive interceptor; and during the same test, the multiple object tracking radar at Vandenberg was to have tracked the strategic ballistic missile target.

On test activities such as these, as I indicated, it is possible that someone could raise an issue because of ambiguities in the treaty, and we do not want to get into that debate. For some time now, we've advised the Congress and the government of the Russian Federation that the planned missile defense testing program that we have was going to bump up against the ABM Treaty. That has now happened. This fact, this reality, it seems to me, provides an impetus for the discussions that President Bush has been having with President Putin, and which will continue here in Washington early next month.