Hotel Bayerischer Hof, Munich, Germany
36th Munich Conference on Security Policy
February 5, 2000
Remarks By Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen on NMD and the
European Security and Defense Identity
Let me turn quickly to NMD. I can see that Minister Scharping is chafing
to get into this debate. Let me turn to National Missile Defense and the
Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. We have Russian participants here today
and I think it is important that they be here today. I think it is important
that we continue to engage in a dialogue, in a discussion, about this
People have tried to minimize this, but there is a growing threat. There
is a growing threat to the United States; there is a growing threat to
our European friends as well. Some would suggest it is being exaggerated
in order to justify this. During our last NATO meeting, we had a presentation
of the growing threat. We pointed to North Korea, which is, in fact, developing
a long-range missile capability that may have nuclear capability, that
undoubtedly has chemical and biological capability. We know that Iran,
with the help of a number of countries, is seeking to acquire a longer-range
missile capability with chemical and biologicals and, if possible, even
nuclear. We know that Iraq in fact came very close to having an intercontinental
ballistic missile capability and we know for a fact that they have developed
chemical and biological agents to be deployed in their warheads. We know
that Libya also is seeking to acquire capabilities along the same lines.
So, the threat is there.
The question is what do we do about it? Now, I know that some of the reactions
on the part of our European friends say, "Well, what about deterrence?
Why not just rely on upon deterrence? After all, it has worked against
the former Soviet Union, it works against all potential enemies that if
they should ever launch an ICBM against any country, certainly NATO or
the United States or North America, that we would simply respond with
our ICBM capability?"
That is true. We have that as a deterrence. The fact that we want to have
a limited type of protection against the so-called rogue states should
not in any way undercut the fact that we are going to maintain a strong
deterrent. We don't ever want to be in the position of having a North
Korea or an Iraq or an Iran, or anyone else, having a limited capability
and then telling us, "If you try to move against us conventionally
. . ." For example, let me ask you hypothetically, if Saddam Hussein
had five or ten or twenty ICBMs with nuclear warheads, and he said that,
if you try to expel me from Kuwait, I'll put one in Berlin, one in Munich,
one in New York, one in
Washington, one in Los Angeles, etc., one in Rome let's spread the
wealth, one in England, London how many would have been quite so eager
to support the deployment of some five hundred thousand conventional troops
to expel him from Kuwait? We would have had a different calculation, asking,
"What kind of a risk are we running? This guy is not quite as stable,
as secure as some of our former adversaries."
We never want to be in the position of being blackmailed by anyone who
will prevent us from carrying out our Article 5 Obligations or responding
to any threat to our national security interests. So there is a justification
and a real reason why we have to deal with this and we have proposed to
deal with it in the following fashion.
We have proposed to construct a limited system that will be designed to
protect North America against a limited type of an attack that we contemplate
that a North Korea, Iran, Iraq or others could have in the foreseeable
future. The President has said, "I'll make no decision at this point."
It will depend upon a number of factors. Number one, do we have the threat?
We believe the threshold has been crossed on that. Number two, do we have
the technology? We are rapidly developing the technology, we believe that
will satisfy that requirement. We have another test coming up in April
and then we will determine whether the technology is mature enough for
the President to make such a decision. Third point, what about the costs?
We have to deal with the costs of such a system. And then fourth, [we
have to] take into account our dealings with our Russian counterparts
and our European friends. [The President] will do all of that before any
decision to deploy is made.
But I should point out that the members [of Congress] are here and they
will speak for themselves. But there is a strong bipartisan support, Republicans
and Democrats, House and Senate, who have passed legislation which the
President has signed, that would indicate that the President should deploy
a system as soon as it is feasible. The President will decide whether
it is feasible taking into account all of those factors and I will not
minimize the consultations and communications with either the Russians
or our European friends. But I think that you should really look at the
facts, listen to the nature of the threat and the fact that European nations
will similarly be subject to that increasing threat and that we, many
nations, are contributing to its enhancement by virtue of the transfer