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 You are in: Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security > Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation (ISN) > Releases > Remarks > 2001

Press Conference on Missile Defense

Dr. Paul Wolfowitz, Deputy Secretary of Defense
Remarks at a Press Availability at the U.S. Embassy
Berlin, Germany
May 10, 2001

Ladies and Gentlemen: Thank you for coming this morning. We are very pleased to have our delegation from Washington, Dr. Paul Wolfowitz, the Deputy Secretary of Defense, Mr. Steven Hadley, the Assistant to the President and the Deputy National Security Advisor, and Ms. Avis Bohlen, the Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control.

We have time, Dr. Wolfowitz will make a brief opening statement; we will have time for just a few questions, and then we have to get them on to the next appointment.

DEPUTY SECRETARY WOLFOWITZ: Let me just say a few words about why we are here, and what we are trying to accomplish. The purpose of this visit is consultations. The primary subject of our consultations or discussions have been the ideas that President Bush expressed in his address of May 1: what we believe is an entirely new way of looking at the concept of deterrence in the post-Cold War world. The talks here have allowed us to exchange ideas with our close ally. We have been speaking frankly and openly. We are listening very carefully to what we are hearing. We want to factor the things that we have heard here into our own thinking. The President hasnít made any decisions yet on the exact direction to go although he has made very clear the general notions that he has in mind. In our view, and in the Presidentís view, the world of 2001 is fundamentally different from that of 1972, in both good ways and bad ways. From the positive standpoint, Russia is no longer our enemy and that permits some fundamental changes in the way we approach the deterrence. But on the other hand, we face new challenges borne of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles. The situation that is getting worse. We need a new concept of deterrence that reflects that reflects both of these fundamental changes. In our view, one that combines offensive forces, deployed defenses, and a strong non-proliferation policy and arms control.

The new relationship with Russia will enable us to further reduce our strategic nuclear weapons and build a relationship with Russia in which strategic nuclear weapons are no longer the centerpiece of that relationship.

Our conversations here in Berlin have been conducted in a very constructive spirit and very open exchange. Our German colleagues have presented us with some serious and important questions. We are going to go home and think about them and we look forward to continuing these discussions.

Iíll be happy now to try to take your questions or have my colleagues help.

QUESTION: I wonder whether apart from skepticism you found any preparedness or willingness on behalf of the Germans to participate in the Presidentís vision of new systems. For example, in defenses for the ranges against missiles of 1,000 kilometers or maybe 3,000 kilometers range?

DEPUTY SECRETARY WOLFOWITZ: I think the only fair thing is to let our German colleagues speak for themselves and say what they think. I just would say I think we found openness and willingness to discuss, but very, very serious questions asked to us and we were not ÖI think that is a fair way to characterize it, but they really have to say what they think.

QUESTION: Could you specify from your point of view what is the most challenging questions you are put from the German side? What is the biggest challenge in terms of the United States which you have to face? You spoke of interesting and serious questions.

DEPUTY SECRETARY WOLFOWITZ: It is a good way to try to get me to characterize the German views. But let me just, okay, it is a fair question now. I mean, I would say, speaking for myself, I think, one of the central issues that, it is not we have not thought about it before, but one of the central themes of our discussions was how do you move forward with what the President is talking about in a way that is cooperative, rather than confrontational, in a way that enhances stability rather than generating new tensions and new arms races of various kinds. I think that those have been the most serious questions we have been thinking about before we got here, but I would say of the many questions that we were asked, many of them revolved around that core.

QUESTION: Do you feel in general that you will be able to persuade the allies to look at the potential word NMD in the same way that the United States does given the (inaudible) bridging the gap between us, the two sides of the Atlantic?

DEPUTY SECRETARY WOLFOWITZ: The only thing I would dare to say is I think people understand that the things we are talking about represent very fundamentally different ways of thinking about the world. We do not expect people to suddenly say, oh, yes, we all of a sudden agree with what you have to say. What we are here to do is to genuinely hear other peopleís ideas. To try to take those ideas into account as we shape our own decisions. It is much too early, I think, even for us to ask people to agree with us, because we have not come to firm conclusions yet ourselves.

I think we have time for just one more question.

QUESTION: Would you characterize this mission as damage control after a period of severe misunderstanding?

DEPUTY SECRETARY WOLFOWITZ: Absolutely not. I do not think there is severe misunderstanding. In fact, I think what we are trying to do is to get away from the notion that consultations consist of deciding what you will do and then coming to friends and allies the day before you announce it and informing them of what is about to happen. We know that is what we do sometimes. That is definitely not what we are doing now. The President understands that we are talking about changes in ways that people have thought about the world for more than thirty years actually. In some ways, one could say it is surprising that twelve years after the Berlin Wall came down in this very city, we are still in some ways, I am speaking in my own view of it is, wedded to old Cold War notions of deterrence as we are. But it produced very deeply ingrained views all over the world. Those are not going to change overnight and the process of changing involves also our listening and thinking about -- it is easier to say what was old and to be put behind us -- itís a little harder to define a new direction and that is what we are working on.

Thank you. 

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