Transcript: Bush Announces U.S. Withdrawal From ABM Treaty
(Withdrawal becomes effective in six months) (860)
The United States has given Russia formal notice that it will withdraw
from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in six months, President
Bush said December 13.
"I have concluded the ABM Treaty hinders our government's ability to
develop ways to protect our people from future terrorist or
rogue-state missile attacks," Bush said in brief remarks following a
National Security Council meeting at the White House.
Then-President Richard Nixon and Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev signed
the ABM Treaty in 1972. The treaty was one of two agreements reached
during the first Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT I), which were
intended to slow and eventually to reverse the nuclear arms race
between the United States and Soviet Union.
"President [Vladimir] Putin and I have also agreed that my decision to
withdraw from the treaty will not in any way undermine our new
relationship or Russian security," he said. "As President Putin said
in Crawford, we are on the path to a fundamentally different
relationship. The Cold War is gone. Today we leave behind one of its
Following is a transcript of Bush's remarks:
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT ON NATIONAL MISSILE DEFENSE
The Rose Garden
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. I've just concluded a meeting of my
National Security Council. We reviewed what I discussed with my
friend, President Vladimir Putin, over the course of many meetings,
many months. And that is the need for America to move beyond the 1972
Anti Ballistic Missile treaty.
Today, I have given formal notice to Russia, in accordance with the
treaty, that the United States of America is withdrawing from this
almost 30 year old treaty. I have concluded the ABM treaty hinders our
government's ability to develop ways to protect our people from future
terrorist or rogue state missile attacks.
The 1972 ABM treaty was signed by the United States and the Soviet
Union at a much different time, in a vastly different world. One of
the signatories, the Soviet Union, no longer exists. And neither does
the hostility that once led both our countries to keep thousands of
nuclear weapons on hair-trigger alert, pointed at each other. The grim
theory was that neither side would launch a nuclear attack because it
knew the other would respond, thereby destroying both.
Today, as the events of September the 11th made all too clear, the
greatest threats to both our countries come not from each other, or
other big powers in the world, but from terrorists who strike without
warning, or rogue states who seek weapons of mass destruction.
We know that the terrorists, and some of those who support them, seek
the ability to deliver death and destruction to our doorstep via
missile. And we must have the freedom and the flexibility to develop
effective defenses against those attacks. Defending the American
people is my highest priority as Commander in Chief, and I cannot and
will not allow the United States to remain in a treaty that prevents
us from developing effective defenses.
At the same time, the United States and Russia have developed a new,
much more hopeful and constructive relationship. We are moving to
replace mutually assured destruction with mutual cooperation.
Beginning in Ljubljana, and continuing in meetings in Genoa, Shanghai,
Washington and Crawford, President Putin and I developed common ground
for a new strategic relationship. Russia is in the midst of a
transition to free markets and democracy. We are committed to forging
strong economic ties between Russia and the United States, and new
bonds between Russia and our partners in NATO. NATO has made clear its
desire to identify and pursue opportunities for joint action at 20.
I look forward to visiting Moscow, to continue our discussions, as we
seek a formal way to express a new strategic relationship that will
last long beyond our individual administrations, providing a
foundation for peace for the years to come.
We're already working closely together as the world rallies in the war
against terrorism. I appreciate so much President Putin's important
advice and cooperation as we fight to dismantle the al Qaeda network
in Afghanistan. I appreciate his commitment to reduce Russia's
offensive nuclear weapons. I reiterate our pledge to reduce our own
nuclear arsenal between 1,700 and 2,200 operationally deployed
strategic nuclear weapons. President Putin and I have also agreed that
my decision to withdraw from the treaty will not, in any way,
undermine our new relationship or Russian security.
As President Putin said in Crawford, we are on the path to a
fundamentally different relationship. The Cold War is long gone. Today
we leave behind one of its last vestiges.
But this is not a day for looking back. This is a day for looking
forward with hope, and anticipation of greater prosperity and peace
for Russians, for Americans and for the entire world.
(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)