Missile Defense
Needed To 'Avert
Nuclear Blackmail'
By Charles Aldinger

MUNICH (Reuters) - Defense Secretary William Cohen warned on Saturday that the United States and Europe could face nuclear blackmail from ``rogue nations'' and urged its allies to support a U.S. national missile defense.
Cohen defended the controversial anti-missile program, suggesting at an international security meeting that the West would have thought twice about sending troops into Kuwait in the 1991 Gulf War if Iraq had nuclear missiles aimed at Washington, London and Munich.
He urged U.S. allies not to oppose possible deployment of a U.S. system, saying that if Washington had weapons to shoot down a limited number of missiles it would not be vulnerable to nuclear blackmail from states such as Iran and Iraq.
European allies are deeply concerned about Russian threats to back away from nuclear arms control treaties if the United States deploys a missile defense.
``We never want to be in the position of being blackmailed by anyone posing a threat to our national security interests,'' Cohen told European and U.S. officials at the annual Munich Conference on Security Policy.
``It is becoming increasingly clear that effective limited defenses are technologically achievable,'' he added despite the recent failure of an anti-missile test over the Pacific Ocean.
``For America and Europe, the threat of missiles from rogue nations is substantial and growing,'' Cohen said. ``They want long-range missiles to coerce and threaten us.''
President Clinton is expected to make a decision in July on whether to begin deploying a $12 billion system of interceptor missiles based in Alaska or to wait for further testing.
Russia Says Start-2 Treaty Threatened
Russian Colonel General Leonid Ivashov voiced strong objections to Washington's request to amend the 1992 anti-ballistic missile treaty so that such a defense might be deployed within the treaty.
``Ratification of START-2 is threatened. Russia will take notice,'' he told the conference, referring to the Russian Duma's failure so far to ratify the second nuclear arms reduction treaty between the two countries.
Many European officials are deeply concerned about the effect on former arms control treaties if the United States breaks out of the ABM treaty.
``It is in the interest of Germany, Europe and the alliance to avert a handicapping of the arms control process,'' German Foreign Minister Joschka Fisher told the meeting.
``We should draw our conclusions collectively. Otherwise, it won't just be the technological gap across the Atlantic that grows wider,'' he cautioned.
The U.S. military failed in January to shoot down a dummy warhead in a second $100 million test over the Pacific. But last October's first test was successful and a third is set before Clinton's planned decision on building a system.
Cohen said last week that the second interceptor missed its target by less than 100 feet (30 meters) and the third test would be a key in his advice to Clinton whether to go ahead.
He said on Saturday that Washington did not want to pull out of the ABM pact. The limited defense was only a shadow of former President Ronald Reagan's dream of a massive space-based ``Star Wars'' missile shield against the former Soviet Union.
``We have made clear that we do not want to abandon the ABM treaty,'' Cohen said, noting that the pact allows for amendments.
``The threats that we will soon face were not envisioned when the treaty was signed 28 years ago,'' he added. ``There is no reason to force a choice between arms control and strategic stability, on the one hand, and defending our population from rogue-state missile threats on the other.''


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