Brussels, 9 June 2000 (RFE/RL) - U.S. Secretary of Defense William Cohen says the United States views a Russian proposal for a joint missile defense system in Europe as insufficient. Speaking today in Brussels, he said the U.S. would press on with its own missile defense system and would still seek changes to the ABM treaty signed with Russia in 1972. Russia opposes any changes.
Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev presented NATO ministers with details of a Russian alternative to the American plan today. Cohen said it appears the Russian proposal would not guarantee protection against missiles with a range of longer than 3,500 kilometers, rendering the system ineffective.
"What this means, in effect, is that it would have the capability only against attacking missiles with ranges less than 3,500 km. If that, in fact, is what Russia has in mind, there is a serious problem. Any effective defense for Russia, the United States or Europe, would have to work against long-range missiles."