Perry: Missile Defense Unnecessary: Says GOP Plans Imperil Treaties

By Gertz, Bill | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), April 26, 1996 | Go to article overview

Perry: Missile Defense Unnecessary: Says GOP Plans Imperil Treaties


Gertz, Bill, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


Defense Secretary William J. Perry yesterday said the United States does not need a national missile defense system and Republican plans to deploy one will undermine strategic arms treaties with Russia.

"Today, we do not need a national missile defense system because our nation is not now threatened by missiles of mass destruction," Mr. Perry said in a speech to students at George Washington University. "No rogue nation today has ICBMs; only the established nuclear powers have ICBMs. And if these powers should ever pose a threat, our ability to retaliate with an overwhelming nuclear response will serve as a deterrent.

"Deterrence has protected us from the established nuclear arsenals for decades, and it will continue to protect us."

The United States today "is safe" from a strategic missile attack but could be threatened if rogue states build their own intercontinental ballistic missiles, he said.

While the threat is "more than a decade away," it could be speeded up if the missile developers get help from other nations, he said.

Also, Russia or China could fire a nuclear missile at the United States by accident or outside of the military chain of command, Mr. Perry said. "Our intelligence also considers this probably remote, and we are working to make it even more remote through arms control and diplomacy," he said.

The Pentagon has a research program to develop a national missile defense over three years that could be deployed in a total of six years, he said.

Mr. Perry criticized the Republican plan for building a nationwide missile defense by 2003, contained in a bill introduced in March by Senate Majority Bob Dole of Kansas and House Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia.

"The Dole-Gingrich bill says we must choose a system now, and begin deploying it in three years, independent of how our threat assessment evolves," Mr. …

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