President Bush yesterday withdrew the nation’s support from the principles that have governed the world’s nuclearbalance for 30 years, condemning the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty as a Cold War relic and vowed to deploy anextensive shield against missiles.
In his first presidential address on global security, Bush said he was sending administration officials around theworld to urge allies to "re-think the unthinkable." Today’s most urgent threat, according to Bush, is from a smallnumber of missiles in the hands of what Washington calls "rogue states."
The ABM treaty was created in 1972 to prevent such a missile defense system so that neither the US or Russia wouldtempted into a first strike nuclear attack.
Russia insisted today that the ABM treaty remained key to global security. The Russian Foreign Minister said, "Fromour point of view this document is inseparable from the general architecture of disarmament which has been formed inthe last 30 years." He added that "We are ready for consultations, to hear the American position and set out ourown."
China warned today of a possible arms race if the US goes ahead with its plan. The official news agency said: "The USmissile defense plan has violated the ABM treaty, will destroy the balance of international security forces and couldcause a new arms race."
United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan said the missile plan would "inevitably impact upon global security andstrategic stability." The Foreign Minister for Sweden, the country which holds the presidency of the European Union,condemned the plan. New Zealand officials said that "the establishment of the missile defense system runs the riskof halting and reversing progress toward the elimination of nuclear weapons."
U.S. allies Britain and Canada issued statements that stopped short of endorsing the plan.
- Karl Grossman, professor of Journalism, State University of New York, College at Old Westbury and authorof ??Weapons In Space, forthcoming from Seven Stories Press.