Rumsfeld Says ABM Withdrawal Is Right Move

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 13, 2001 -- The U.S. withdrawal from the Anti-ballistic Missile Treaty will allow the United States to test missile defense systems aimed at defeating threats from terrorists and rogue states, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Dec. 13.

Speaking to reporters at a Pentagon briefing, Rumsfeld commented on President Bush's morning announcement of a U.S. withdrawal from the 30-year-old treaty. The secretary said the treaty doesn't reflect today's strategic realities.

Relations between the United States and Russia in 2001 are a far cry from those of 1972, when the treaty was signed, he noted. Given the new environment, the treaty does not protect America, he said.

"It ignores the reality that weapons of mass destruction can come into the hands of rogue states and nonstate entities, which is an important change that has occurred over the last 30 years," he said.

Withdrawal from the treaty would allow the United States to further test missile defense programs. The U.S. program is aimed specifically at defeating a small number of missiles launched by a rogue state or by terrorist organizations. Rumsfeld has said the program poses no threat to Russia.

The withdrawal, effective in six months, will allow the United States to continue the test program Rumsfeld put into place when he returned to the department. He recently held up some tests the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization wanted to conduct because they "bumped up" against treaty restrictions.

He said the basic plan will go forward and the department will keep examining the best, most cost-effective and easiest way to field a defensive system. Rumsfeld said the program would not be a perfect defense.

"I think (building something perfect) is an unrealistic expectation, nor do I think it's necessary that things be perfect," he said. "Nothing we have … is perfect. Your cars aren't perfect, your bikes aren't perfect, our eyeglasses aren't perfect. We live with that all the time.

"If you cannot do everything, does that mean you should not do anything? I think not."