Great Seal

U.S. Department of State

Daily Press Briefing


2,6-7Arms Sale between India and Russia / ABM Treaty / Ballistic Missiles / Weapons of Mass Destruction / Anti-Proliferation / Nuclear Arms Control / NMD

DPB #136
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 5, 1999, 1:15 P.M.

........ QUESTION: First of all, I'm wondering if you could refresh all those you refreshed on who the Prime Minister of India is. And, secondly, if you are aware of this giant - according to Washington reports - $3 billion arms deal between the Indians and the Russians, and if you're worried that that will at all affect the stability in South Asia. Or are you mainly - this is conventional weapons - are you mainly concerned with the nuclear aspect?

MR. RUBIN: I did bring my cheat sheet with me today, fearing a series of questions from around the world of the names of heads of state and heads of government. I think I knew the -- Prime Minister Vajpayee is the leader of India, but he does have a president named Narayanan, so it depends on whether you're talking about the head of state or head of government. But I think it's all-important for all of us to carry our cheat sheets around, lest someone ask unfair questions about every potential prime minister and president throughout the world.

With respect to your specific question on this arms sale, I do not have any information as to what our specific reaction to it is. But I was very pleased to be able to answer the first part of your question.


QUESTION: Can I change the subject to go back to Russia, and specifically, with regard to the ABM modifications that the United States is seeking with the Russians. What is the state of play there? I understand most everything we've heard from their press has been negative.

MR. RUBIN: Yes, I think that's an accurate representation of their media. I hope you don't think that the Russian media might have a different view than the Russian Government. In our discussions with the Russian Government, we have not overcome, yet, their concerns about this issue.

We believe that we jointly face a threat from new countries, out there, developing ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction, and that the best way to deal with that threat is to combine our anti-proliferation efforts in cutting off technology to these places, with the possibility of deploying a limited defense. We think it is possible to make modest adjustments to the ABM Treaty in such a way that Russia's deterrent is not threatened; that they will still have the capability that their deterrent requires; and it would be possible for us to deploy a system capable of defending the United States against this third-country threat, in a way that allowed the United States and Russia to continue to support a modified ABM Treaty.

This is going to be a long discussion. We don't expect this to change overnight. The ABM Treaty is the cornerstone of our national security efforts, with respect to nuclear arms control and the Russians feel very strongly about the ABM Treaty. So do we. I think it's also fair to point out that the Russians just tested one of their elements of their ABM system, so they obviously see the necessity for having an ABM system. What we're saying is, we want a limited ABM system, like there's is limited, and we want to work on the limitations through constructive dialogue. We have not yet achieved agreement, but it's something we're determined to continue discussing.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) -- on these discussions, if I might ask?

MR. RUBIN: A number of officials. Secretary Albright has discussed this with Foreign Minister Ivanov; Deputy Secretary Talbott has discussed it with a number of officials; Under Secretary Holum has been leading a number of more technical discussions. So it's an ongoing discussion.

QUESTION: You say it's going to be a long discussion, but you're supposed to be making recommendations in June.

MR. RUBIN: Well, that's a long time.

QUESTION: That's the timeframe you're talking about?

MR. RUBIN: Again, I don't want to put a hard and fast date on it, but today I think is November, and that's eight-and-half months from now.

QUESTION: A related question to that: Between now and June or July or whenever the decision has to be made on NMD, will all US tests of the NMD, or parts of it, be in compliance with the existing ABM treaty? And do you view that the Russian test was in compliance with the treaty?

MR. RUBIN: We have no reason to doubt that the testing, at an agreed test site, of an aspect of their permitted system, is a violation of the treaty, just as our tests of our missile defenses have been consistent with the treaty, because they have been conducted at agreed test ranges and they involve fixed land-based technology, etc., etc. So we are a nation of laws, and we intend to abide by this treaty, pending any modifications of it.


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