American Forces Press Service

U.S. Will Study Russian Missile Defense Proposals


 By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

 BRUSSELS, Belgium, June 7, 2000 -- Russian leaders agreeing 
 there is a threat of missile attack from rogue states marks 
 a “significant change in the attitude and understanding” of 
 the U.S. push for a national missile defense, Defense 
 Secretary William S. Cohen said.
 Cohen, speaking en route to NATO meetings here, said he 
 would discuss Russian President Vladimir Putin’s proposals 
 with the NATO allies.
 “Just a few weeks ago, [the Russian] officials' position 
 was that there is no threat, or that the threat was largely 
 exaggerated,” Cohen said. “From what I have read, the 
 Russian president now believes there is a threat.” Cohen is 
 due to meet Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev at the 
 NATO meetings and then travel to Moscow for bilateral 
 meetings with his counterpart.
 Cohen said Putin’s proposal for an alternative missile 
 defense program is vague. “The devils are always in the 
 details,” he said. He said the Russian idea could be a 
 constructive proposal, “but it could be a tactic to divide 
 the European members of NATO from the United States.”
 He said the United States would look at exactly what Putin 
 has proposed before making an assessment. 
 The United States has proposed a limited National Missile 
 Defense program that would counter threats from rogue 
 states with a small number of ICBMs. It has sought to amend 
 the 1972 Anti-ballistic Missile Treaty with the former 
 Soviet Union in order to build that defense system. U.S. 
 officials have repeatedly stated the program in no way is 
 aimed at countering Russia’s nuclear arsenal.