In recent months, the United States and Russia have made
significant progress in building a new strategic relationship one
that puts Cold War animosities behind us, so we can focus on the new dangers
and challenges that both countries will face in the 21st Century.
An important expression of that new relationship is the
broad agreement by both countries that the time has come for substantial
reductions in strategic offensive weapons. The U.S. and Russia are no
longer adversaries; we no longer need the large nuclear arsenals of the
Cold War era.
At the Washington/Crawford Summit, Presidents Bush and Putin
confirmed their respective commitments to implement significant reductions.
And President Bush told President Putin that the United States intends
to reduce the number of operationally deployed strategic warheads to a
range of 1700 to 2200 over the next decade. President Putin has since
indicated his intention to reduce to between 1500 and 2000.
President Bush will visit Moscow this spring. In weeks and
months ahead, we will work together to find new ways to enhance transparency
and predictability of the strategic nuclear force reductions both the
U.S. and Russia have pledged to make.
Missile Defense and the ASM Treaty
As we work to reduce our nuclear arsenals, we must at
the same time prepare for the full range of asymetric threats we will
face in the period ahead.
Of particular concern is the fact that terrorist networks and terrorist
states are seeking weapons of increasing power and range asymetric
capabilities that could allow them to hold our people hostage to terror
Among our vulnerabilities to terrorism, cyber attacks
and cruise missiles, we must add our vulnerability missile attack. The
rogue states of the world see this vulnerability and they are
investing enormous sums to acquire the weapons necessary to exploit
That is why President Bush has declared his intention
to develop and deploy ballistic missile defenses capable of protecting
the American people, our friends, allies and forces around the world
from limited ballistic missile attack. We have put in place a robust
and flexible research, development and testing program designed to examine
the widest range of promising technologies.
That program has begun to bear fruit. Earlier this year,
on July 14th, we held a successful test of a ground-based mid-course
system. Two weeks ago, on December 4th, we again held a successful ballistic
missile intercept test.
These intercepts show that, notwithstanding the delays
of the past decade, the capability to defend against ballistic missiles
is within our grasp. Ballistic missile defense is less a problem of
invention than it is a challenge of engineering.
But, as we have warned for some time now, it was inevitable
that our testing program would eventually "bump up"
against the constraints of the ABM Treaty. That happened on October
25th, when I denied the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization permission
to conduct four test activities, each of which some lawyers would have
argued would have been a violation of the treaty.
That is why, last week, President Bush decided that the
time had come to give Russia our formal 6-month notice of withdrawal.
The Russian government has told us that, while disappointed, it accepts
the U.S. decision. Indeed, President Putin himself stated that he has
"complete confidence that the decision taken by the President
of the United States presents no threat to the national security of
the Russian Federation."
I believe that this shows that the U.S.-Russian relationship
has matured to the point that we can agree to disagree agreeably on
the ABM Treaty, without allowing those differences to affect progress
in other areas of our relationship.
The U.S. and Russia are cooperating in the war on terrorism. We are
expanding our two countries trade and investment ties, and working to
bring Russia into the WTO. And we have broad agreement that the time
has come for both of our countries to make substantial reductions in
strategic offensive weapons.
I know it is hard for some to imagine a U.S.-Russia relationship
without the ABM treaty. Not long ago, it would have been hard for some
imagine the U.S. and Russia working together in Afghanistan but
there we are. The world is changing. Not only must we change with it
we must lead the change.
Russia and the U.S. are working to do just that as we transform our
relationship for a new century.