29 December 2000
Russia Mulls Rumsfeld Missile Plan
By Vladimir Isachenkov
Associated Press Writer

(See also: Rumsfeld missile plan spurs debate - 31/12/00)

President-elect Bush's choice of Donald Rumsfeld as the new secretary of defense is likely to raise pressure on the Kremlin to reach a compromise with the United States on its plan to deploy anti-missile defenses, analysts said Friday.

``Rumsfeld is known as a proponent of a tough line, and he is likely to take a rigid stance on the National Missile Defense,'' said Dmitry Trenin, a political affairs expert for the Carnegie Endowment's Moscow office.

Russia has categorically rejected the Clinton administration's push to modify the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty to allow the deployment of a limited anti-missile system, saying that the move would upset the strategic balance and trigger a new arms race.

President Clinton (news - web sites) has deferred to his successor a decision on whether to start activities that would lead to the deployment of a national missile shield. The shield would aim to counter attacks from so-called ``rogue states,'' now referred to by the U.S. State Department as ``states of concern.''

Rumsfeld led a bipartisan commission that concluded two years ago that potential missile threats either from an accidental launch or a rogue nation were closer than U.S. intelligence believed, fueling arguments to push ahead with missile defenses.

``The report by Rumsfeld's commission has stoked the Americans' desire to have anti-missile defenses, so his appointment isn't going to make life easier for the Russians,'' said Ivan Safranchuk, an arms control analyst at PIR-Center, an independent think tank in Moscow.

He and other analysts predicted that Moscow would eventually have to abandon its staunch resistance to any changes in the ABM Treaty, and would bargain for concessions from the United States in exchange for an agreement to modify it.

Russian officials say Moscow remains firmly against any revision of the ABM treaty and they have threatened to opt out of existing arms control agreements if the United States proceeds with deploying missile defenses.

``There is no chance that Russia may convince the United States to abandon its missile defenses, so it will have to reach an agreement,'' Safranchuk said. ``Despite all the rhetoric, Moscow doesn't want to quarrel with the United States.''

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