For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
December 13, 2001
ABM Treaty Fact Sheet
Statement by the Press Secretary
Announcement of Withdrawal from the Abm Treaty
The circumstances affecting U.S. national security have changed fundamentally
since the signing of the ABM Treaty in 1972. The attacks against
the U.S. homeland on September 11 vividly demonstrate that the threats
we face today are far different from those of the Cold War. During
that era, now fortunately in the past, the United States and the Soviet
Union were locked in an implacably hostile relationship. Each side
deployed thousands of nuclear weapons pointed at the other. Our
ultimate security rested largely on the grim premise that neither side
would launch a nuclear attack because doing so would result in a counter-attack
ensuring the total destruction of both nations.
Today, our security environment is profoundly different. The Cold
War is over. The Soviet Union no longer exists. Russia is
not an enemy, but in fact is increasingly allied with us on a growing
number of critically important issues. The depth of United States-Russian
cooperation in counterterrorism is both a model of the new strategic relationship
we seek to establish and a foundation on which to build further cooperation
across the broad spectrum of political, economic and security issues of
Today, the United States and Russia face new threats to their security.
Principal among these threats are weapons of mass destruction and
their delivery means wielded by terrorists and rogue states. A number
of such states are acquiring increasingly longer-range ballistic missiles
as instruments of blackmail and coercion against the United States and
its friends and allies. The United States must defend its homeland,
its forces and its friends and allies against these threats. We
must develop and deploy the means to deter and protect against them, including
through limited missile defense of our territory.
Under the terms of the ABM Treaty, the United States is prohibited from
defending its homeland against ballistic missile attack. We are
also prohibited from cooperating in developing missile defenses against
long-range threats with our friends and allies. Given the emergence
of these new threats to our national security and the imperative of defending
against them, the United States is today providing formal notification
of its withdrawal from the ABM Treaty. As provided in Article XV
of that Treaty, the effective date of withdrawal will be six months from
At the same time, the United States looks forward to moving ahead
with Russia in developing elements of a new strategic relationship.
- In the inter-related area of offensive nuclear forces, we welcome
President Putin's commitment to deep cuts in Russian nuclear forces,
and reaffirm our own commitment to reduce U.S. nuclear forces significantly.
- We look forward to continued consultations on how to achieve increased
transparency and predictability regarding reductions in offensive nuclear
- We also look forward to continued consultations on transparency, confidence
building, and cooperation on missile defenses, such as joint exercises
and potential joint development programs.
- The United States also plans to discuss with Russia ways to establish
regular defense planning talks to exchange information on strategic
force issues, and to deepen cooperation on efforts to prevent and deal
with the effects of the spread of weapons of mass destruction and their
means of delivery.
The United States intends to expand cooperation in each of these areas
and to work intensively with Russia to further develop and formalize the
new strategic relationship between the two countries.
The United States believes that moving beyond the ABM Treaty will contribute
to international peace and security. We stand ready to continue
our active dialogue with allies, China, and other interested states on
all issues associated with strategic stability and how we can best cooperate
to meet the threats of the 21st century. We believe such a dialogue
is in the interest of all states.