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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 54, February 2001

UK Prime Minister Visit to US

Joint Statement

'Joint Statement by President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair,' The White House, Office of the Press Secretary, Camp David, Maryland, February 23, 2001.

"... We affirm that NATO will remain the essential foundation of Transatlantic security. In this new century, NATO will continue to adapt itself to meet new missions and challenges by strengthening its capabilities; seeking to reinforce cooperation with Russia, Ukraine and other members of the Partnership for Peace; and continuing to admit to its ranks European democracies prepared to assume the responsibilities of membership.

We support efforts of NATO's European Members and other European nations to assume greater responsibility for crisis management in Europe by strengthening NATO's capabilities and developing the ability to manage efforts where NATO as a whole chooses not to engage. In this regard, the United States welcomes the European Union's European Security and Defense Policy (ESDP), intended to make Europe a stronger, more capable partner in deterring and managing crises affecting the security of the Transatlantic community. The United Kingdom is committed to taking ESDP forward on the basis agreed by the EU at the recent Nice summit. This involves:

  • Working with other EU members to establish and provide resources for an ESDP that improves Europe's capabilities and enables the EU to act where NATO as a whole is not engaged;
  • Developing EU capabilities in a manner that is fully coordinated, compatible and transparent with NATO;
  • Providing for the fullest possible participation of non-EU European Allies in the consideration of execution of EU-led operations, reflecting their shared interests and security commitments as NATO members.
The United States supports these efforts and welcomes the progress made toward our shared goals. ...

We recognize the existence of a common threat stemming from the growing proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and increasingly sophisticated missiles for their delivery. We are already working together in this area, and agree on the need for further substantive bilateral consultations, as well as close consultations with other allies. This consultation process, which will involve contacts with other interested parties, will include a review of our common strategic assumptions so that they reflect the contemporary security setting, and especially the growing threat from WMD-armed adversaries in regions of vital interest. We need to obstruct and deter these new threats with a strategy that encompasses both offensive and defensive systems, continues nuclear arms reductions where possible, and strengthens WMD and missile proliferation controls and counter-proliferation measures.

We reaffirm our determination to oppose the development or use of WMD and ballistic missiles by Saddam Hussein and the threat his regime poses to its neighbours, while seeking to protect the Iraqi people from the brutality of Saddam Hussein and his indifference to their humanitarian needs. We call on Iraq to comply with relevant UN Security Council Resolutions. ..."

Press Conference

'Remarks by the President and Prime Minister Blair in Joint Press Conference,' The White House, Office of the Press Secretary, Camp David, Maryland, February 23.

"Question: 'Mr. President, have you received a commitment from the Prime Minister to support your missile defense plan, including building missile defense sites in Britain? And, Mr. Prime Minister, do you think that there is a threat that requires a missile defense shield and would you allow missile defense sites to be built on your [territory]?'

President Bush: '... We had a long discussion about missile defense. ... I made the case, like I will do to all the leaders with whom I meet, that we need to think differently about the post-Cold War era, that there are new threats that face people who love freedom. There is the threat of an accidental launch of a missile; there are threats of potential blackmail when one of these nations develops weapons of mass destruction and be willing to point at America, Britain, our allies, our friends, people with whom we've got commitments. And we've got to deal with those in a realistic way. And the Prime Minister asked a lot of really good questions, and he can answer what you asked... But we're in the process of coming up with a realistic way to deal with the true threats. It makes a lot of sense to explore options. It makes a lot of sense to develop defenses to face the true threats. It also makes sense for us to send the message to the world that in the post-Cold War era, the United States will handle its responsibilities to keep the peace in a constructive way, by reducing our offensive weapons, as well. And I'm now talking to the Pentagon to come up with a level of nuclear weaponry that will help us keep the peace. As to whether or not there will be sites or no sites, that's too early to determine, because I have yet to propose to the Prime Minister what will work.'

Prime Minister Blair: 'First of all, let me say, I understand and share the concerns of the President and the American administration about weapons of mass destruction and nuclear proliferation. And I think it's very important in that context that we discuss all the ways that we can deal with this threat, which is a real threat and a present threat, both in relation to offensive and defensive systems. And I said to the President, and I want to repeat to you, that I welcome very much the approach that the administration has taken, which is to be very open about this, which is to talk to people about it, to make sure that allies are consulted properly. These are very, very big and important issues. But we welcome the dialogue that there has been on it. And I think if you look at the world today and you see those countries that are developing weapons of mass destruction, I think it is a debate that is right to have.'

Question: 'Can I ask you both about missile defense? Mr. President, can I ask you, if you fail to get agreement among your key allies, including Britain, are you prepared then to go ahead alone with some form of missile defense system? And if I can ask the Prime Minister, are you prepared to say in principle now you could back an American missile defense system?'

President Bush: '... I don't think I'm going to fail to persuade people. I think...it's commonsensical to say to our friends, let's come together, work together, to develop a defense against the true threats of the 21st century. And so, I don't accept your hypothesis.'

Prime Minister Blair: 'Well, I'm sure, for my part, that this is a debate that is important to have, for the very reasons that the President gave earlier. And I think if you look at the weapons of mass destruction that people are trying to develop in nuclear proliferation, that it's important that we look at every single way we possibly can of dealing with this threat. Now, as the President said a moment or two ago, we don't have a specific proposal on the table yet. But I understand and share the American concerns, as I've said many times before. And I think what is important is that if we take this forward in a constructive way and have the right discussion with allies, then we can find a way through this. I've always believed that, incidentally, and I believe that even more firmly having talked to the President today.'

President Bush: 'I'll give you a follow-up answer. I thought it interesting that Mr. Putin [recently] talked about missile defenses [in Europe]. I know there are some concerns in Europe about Russian reaction to the development of defenses that will make the world more peaceful. And Mr. Putin has started talking about the need for folks to develop - think about developing systems that will intercept missiles on launch, for example, theater-based systems that will keep the peace. We found that to be a breakthrough of sorts, a recognition that the Cold War has passed, that we are not Russia's enemy. I don't view Russia as our enemy, either, and that there will be new threats that we'll have to deal with. If we are peaceful, loving people, we must use our technologies to appropriately deal with the threats that we'll be facing. And I thought that was a positive breakthrough.'"

© 2001 The Acronym Institute.