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Rumsfeld Questions Continued Usefulness of 1972 ABM Treaty - 2001-08-13


U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld says the United States and Russia no longer need nuclear deterrence agreements, like the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty. The American defense chief made the statement in Moscow Monday, ahead of a meeting with his Russian counterpart on arms control and missile defense issues.

Speaking to Russian journalists Monday, Mr. Rumsfeld described the ABM treaty as an agreement developed in the Cold War that has outlived its usefulness. He arrived in Moscow Sunday evening for a one-day visit he admits is unlikely to bring any immediate agreements.

Mr. Rumsfeld has said "even though differences with Russia over the issues are not likely to be resolved", such meetings are helpful in letting each side understand the other's perspective. He also admits new agreements between Washington and Moscow will not come easily. Moscow strongly opposes U.S. plans to build a missile defense shield, saying that would violate the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. President Bush says the two countries must move beyond what he calls an outdated agreement. Russian President Vladimir Putin describes the pact as the cornerstone of world stability that, if it is abandoned, could lead to a costly, destabilizing arms race. He and President Bush have agreed to link talks about missile defenses with efforts to reduce the size of the two countries' nuclear arsenals.

Mr. Rumsfeld repeated the American position that it will go ahead with testing of its missile defense plan, despite Russian opposition.

Mr. Rumsfeld's talks, along with last month's visit to Moscow by National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, are preparing for President Bush's next scheduled meeting with Mr. Putin, in October in Shanghai.

Secretary Rumsfeld had talks scheduled with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov and may also meet with President Putin.

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