DATE=5/3/2000 TYPE=BACKGROUND REPORT TITLE=ARGUING MISSILE DEFENSE NUMBER=5-46254 BYLINE=ED WARNER DATELINE=WASHINGTON CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: Amid professions of friendship, Russian and American legislators sharply disagree on U-S deployment of an anti-ballistic missile system. At a conference on Capitol Hill, U-S Congress members were emphatic that the system would be built. Russians were just as firm in declaring the system a mistake that would jeopardize relations between the two nations. V-O-A's Ed Warner reports the discussion. TEXT: What has happened to the good feelings that once characterized U-S-Russian relations? That question was asked repeatedly by both American and Russian legislators at a recent conference held by the Free Congress Foundation and the American University of Moscow. There were a variety of answers. Russians were upset by the expansion of NATO and the bombing of Kosovo. Americans objected to the war in Chechnya and the pervasive corruption in Russia. But the key issue was the U-S anti-ballistic missile system. Russian legislators insisted this would dramatically shift the balance of forces between the two countries. A foreign policy adviser to the Russian duma, Arkady Murashev, said his country couldn't compete with the United States on such a technologically complex project. He says that damages relations even if it has not yet proved to work: /// MURASHEV ACT /// As a former physicist, I do not believe that this system can be a 100-percent guarantee from the real threats, which exist in the world. Somehow the process is more important than the result. And to start the right process is very important. At this particular period in history, it is very important to have a good relationship between our countries. /// END ACT /// Former C-I-A Director James Woolsey said Russia may not have a great deal to worry about. In terms of missile defense, it is still not clear if a bullet can hit a bullet. Mr. Woolsey cited a recent Pentagon briefing for Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov: /// WOOLSEY ACT /// The subject of the briefing was the ineffectiveness of the U-S ballistic missile defense system. I imagine if you were sitting in either Baghdad or Pyonyang and reading the press reports of that meeting, you would be smiling as you learned how the radars would not be able to operate effectively with more interceptors than the 100 that are designed, and the like. /// END ACT /// Even so, Senator Jon Kyl insisted the United States would deploy a national missile defense. It is not just the current threat that is a concern, he said, but future nuclear proliferation by hostile states: /// KYL ACT /// A majority of the members of the Senate, I believe, support the proposition that missile defense protection should be provided to our allies as well, and no one I know excludes Russia from that possible protection. The threat is from rogue nations. The defense is only effective against their relatively primitive missile systems. It is not designed to be effective against the strategic forces of Russia. /// END ACT /// Russian legislators said the United States exaggerates the danger of so-called rogue states like North Korea, Iran, and Iraq. Are they really going to risk attacking the United States when retaliation would be swift and massive? The President of Russia House in Washington, Edward Lozansky, asked participants if America and Russia could collaborate on missile defense: /// LOZANSKY ACT /// Senator Jon Kyl reaffirmed that once the United States develops this technology, it will also be offered to Russia. I want to go one step further. Would the United States welcome Russian participation in developing this system? Instead of simply talking of developing this system and give it to Russia, why not invite Russia to share a joint system? /// END ACT /// Some members of Congress said they would have to think about it. Others said no. The conference thoroughly aired the issue, but at the end, Russians and Americans remained divided on missile defense. (SIGNED) NEB/EW/RAE 03-May-2000 13:59 PM EDT (03-May-2000 1759 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .