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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 54, February 2001

NATO Meeting & Discussions

Foreign Ministers' Meeting

Press conference with NATO Secretary-General Lord Robertson and US Secretary of State Colin Powell following an Extraordinary Meeting of the North Atlantic Council (NAC) in Foreign Ministers Session, Brussels, February 27, 2001; US State Department transcript.

Note: for further details and coverage of the Extraordinary Meeting, see the NATO website, http://www.nato.int/docu/comm/2001/0102-hq/0102-hq.htm.

"Secretary Powell: 'This alliance has succeeded in maintaining strategic stability through many difficult and trying decades. We have done so because we have worked together and worked through problems together. As we look at future threats, we work for stability through offensive reductions in our nuclear force posture. We look at non-proliferation efforts as part of our strategic framework. We look at diplomatic efforts and we look at missile defense. We believe it is our responsibility to create a missile defense that protects the United States, our allies and friends, all, against the threat of missile proliferation that could deliver weapons of mass destruction to any of our countries. We should use all available instruments to deter and defend against that threat. We are committed to close allied consultations to address these issues together prior to deciding on specific technologies or architecture. And I told my colleagues this morning that we will be consulting with them as we conduct our own review in going forward. We will also consult with other governments including, of course, Russia and China. ...'

Question: 'Mr. Secretary, do you now know more about the details of the Russian proposal, if it's a proposal, for missile defense? Do you see it as a serious one? Is it an attempt simply to throw the US off track? Is it an attempt to generate discord with the Alliance? And are the Allies a little more adjusted now to this program?'

Secretary Powell: 'I got very good responses from all of my colleagues this morning on missile defense. I think there is a common understanding within the Alliance that this is a real threat, and this is a threat that must be looked at, not only by the United States, but by the Alliance. The Russian proposal I think was noteworthy in the fact that, as a result of this proposal, they are saying to us they recognize the nature of this threat as well and want to work with us on it. The details, the programmatic details of the proposal, are still quite sketchy and I know they are working their way through it. Minister Ivanov and I talked about it last week and I look forward to further discussions with him on it - exactly what they have in mind, the nature of their proposal. And at the same time, I will share with them as we go along the nature of our conceptual thinking and the proposals that we might come up with. So I think there has been progress and a greater understanding, not only within NATO, but between NATO, the United States and Russia, of the nature of the threat and the need to do something about it.' ...

Secretary-General Robertson: '...Whatever the differences about missile defence, there is no difference at all on the fact that there is a threat and that we need to meet that threat. And that is what the discussions will be about over the next few weeks. Last week I went to the Kremlin, and was told that the Russians agreed that there is a threat, and that even the Russians agreed that it must be met and that there is a military solution that they are putting forward to it. So I think we have established quite a considerable degree of common ground - between the United States and its European Allies, and between NATO and the Russians as well. And that is a very good foundation for moving forward. ...'"

Speech in Moscow by NATO Secretary General

Speech by Lord Robertson, NATO Secretary General, at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO), February 21, 2001.

"[Since the disruption in our relationship caused by the Kosovo conflict], we have had a series of very open consultations and debates [in the NATO-Russia Permanent Joint Council] on our respective Strategic Concepts and on Russia's new military doctrine. High-ranking representatives from Moscow participated in these discussions and addressed concerns NATO countries had raised, for example on the higher prominence Russian strategic thinking seemed to be giving to nuclear weapons. ... In Florence, at the May 2000 Foreign Ministerial meeting, Russia re-took its seat at the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council where its voice, once again, is heard loud and clear. On the basis of a Work Programme, we expanded our dialogue and cooperation. Experts started meeting again to address joint concerns regarding the CFE Treaty, and the commitments undertaken by all participating states at the OSCE Summit in Istanbul in 1999, nuclear and proliferation questions, international terrorism, peacekeeping and other issues. All these were tough issues - the hardware in the business of security. Dealing with them got our partnership back on track. ...

Good relations between NATO and Russia are still being worked on - but we have made progress and we must continue to create that progress together. We have not been idle. ... Defence reform is another new topic for us and it, too, deserves a high profile. The configuration of a country's military is a good measure of how it sees the outside world and how it perceives threats and risks to its security. Both in NATO countries and in Russia, defence reform is at the heart of bringing our military structures and capabilities into line with the new global realities. There is a wealth of experience we can share and in the process lay another building block for more transparency and increased confidence. With the same aim in mind, I handed to Minister Ivanov yesterday a substantial package of NATO proposals for Confidence and Security Building Measures in the nuclear field. Again, this is an area of cooperation where every step forward will reap direct benefits to both sides. ...

I have received from [Defence Minister] Marshal Sergeyev at our meeting yesterday proposals for cooperation on theatre missile defence. We had been anticipating more details since President Putin's announcements last summer and NATO on its own is already engaged in a thorough examination of extended air defence and theatre missile defence. After careful study of these Russian proposals we can sit down to discuss where our interests meet and how we can take this project forward. ..."

© 2001 The Acronym Institute.