SLUG: 2-275592 Missile Defense / React (L only) DATE: NOTE NUMBER:









INTRO: President Bush's pledge to deploy a missile defense network is meeting resistance in Washington as well as some foreign capitals. V-O-A's David Swan reports Democrats in Congress are lining up to fight the proposal.

TEXT: While most Democrats do not oppose research on missile defenses, or even deployment of limited, regional systems, the lawmakers say Mr. Bush is moving too far and too fast. They point to the cost of a nationwide anti-missile shield, its technological problems, and what they call the dangers of breaching the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty with Moscow.

Senator Joseph Biden says the move could also lead China to build more offensive missiles - which in turn would cause India and Pakistan to follow suit.

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Would America be more protected or less protected with another thousand or so sophisticated nuclear weapons, with three nations at each other's throat, armed to the teeth, with pressure on Japan to go nuclear?

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But the Democrats' options for stopping Mr. Bush's plan are somewhat limited. Under the 1972 A-B-M treaty, a president can withdraw from the pact if he finds that action would serve the national interest.

Democrats can try to cut back on funding for missile defenses and work with the administration to change the proposal. Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle is one of many Democrats who complain Mr. Bush did not consult them before announcing his decision.


I am pleased that he did contact (British Prime Minster) Tony Blair and other prime ministers and I'm inclined to think of creating a hotline to Tony Blair to find out what our foreign policy ought to be. But I think that I shouldn't have to call Tony Blair to find out what it's going to be. Our lines work as well as his does.

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Mr. Bush's contacts with other leaders did not always win their support. German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, visiting Washington Wednesday, urged the United States not to give up on the longstanding A-B-M accord.

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And it worked well in the past. So we think that we should continue along these successes.

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