- President Clinton is testing a nuclear defense that could
not stop Russian missiles from striking the United States, Secretary of
State Madeleine Albright disclosed Wednesday.
- All it could do is protect against missile attacks from
less-sophisticated arsenals, such as those in North Korea, she said.
- "The missile system we are planning is not designed
to defend against Russia and could not do so," Albright told the Chicago
Council on Foreign Relations.
- "A Russian defense official recently proclaimed
that his nation has the ability to overwhelm the missile-defense system
we are planning. That is true - and part of our point."
- Her remarks left foreign-affairs observers puzzling out
these apparent contradictions in U.S. nuclear policies:
- * She branded the Russians as "dangerous extremists"
for opposing Clinton's campaign to amend the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile
Treaty that prohibits any nation from building a nuclear defense.
- At the same time she called for Russia's cooperation
in changing the treaty to accommodate Clinton's missile-defense system.
- Russia has long regarded the ABM Treaty, cornerstone
of the Cold War mutual-assured-destruction strategy, as its only real defense
against a nuclear strike by the U.S.
- At its core is the belief that if the two nuclear nations
are kept defenseless against an intercontinental ballistic-missile attack
neither would risk annihilation by launching first.
- * For the U.S. to build such a missile-defense system,
the ABM Treaty would have to be amended or the treaty scrapped altogether
by the U.S.
- Undersecretary of Defense Walter B. Slocombe last week
asserted the U.S. plans to build the Clinton anti-missile system even if
it has to pull out of the ABM Treaty:
- "We will not permit any other country to have a
veto on actions that may be needed for the defense of our country."
- In her Chicago speech, Albright not only gave no indication
the U.S. would junk the treaty, she said it would be dangerous to do so
because it would revive old Russian threats to U.S. security.
- * The president has maintained all along that he would
work closely with the Russians and the Senate to amend the ABM Treaty before
beginning to plan his missile-defense system in June.
- Albright's Chicago speech made clear that Clinton is
currently developing the missile defenses prohibited by the ABM Treaty.
- The Associated Press reported this upset the head of
the Arms Control Association, a private group that closely follows U.S.
- Albright's remarks Wednesday are "strongly at odds
with the president's statement that his decision will depend on an assessment
of flight tests, cost estimates, evaluation of the uncertain threat and
progress in achieving arms-control objectives," said Spurgeon Keeny.
- Keeny criticized the Clinton administration for calling
opponents of changes in the treaty dangerous extremists and having decided
to proceed with its missile-defense system.
- * Earlier, both Clinton and Albright said the U.S. would
continue to abide by the terms of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty
despite it's overwhelming rejection last month by the Senate.
- She told her Chicago audience Wednesday the Clinton administration
would break that treaty, even if ratified by the Senate, should any "new
threats" require the U.S. to resume nuclear testing.
- Meanwhile, China's leading arms-control official has
warned that Clinton's missile-defense system could trigger a nuclear arms
- To read more about this, see today's NewsMax.com story,
"China Warns US Risks New Arms Race."
- To read more about Russia's hard line on the ABM Treaty,
see this NewsMax.com story, "Russia Threatens Any US Missile Defense."
- For More on Russia Visit Hot Topics.