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Rumsfeld Addresses Space-Age National Security, EP-3 Plane Update

Aired May 8, 2001 - 14:17   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: We're going to go to the Pentagon now. Secretary of Defense is talking about that EP-3 surveillance plane that is still in China, and also national security from outer space, big item today on the Pentagon's agenda.

Here's the secretary.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

DONALD RUMSFELD, DEFENSE SECRETARY: I'm not in a position to make decisions or comments on particular weapon systems. We just haven't gotten to that point, except in one case where it came down the pike and we had to make a decision.

And the first part of your question was amendments?

QUESTION: It's been cited by your administration...

RUMSFELD: I know, the treaty. The president said it all. He said that the ABM Treaty prohibits -- is designed to prevent countries from creating missile defense capabilities. And he has indicated that he believes that the world situation has changed sufficiently that he wants to begin discussions with Russia, and has contacted Mr. Putin.

And there will be some of our senior level individuals consulting with the Russians, sometime in the next -- during this week, I think.

QUESTION: Actually, I'm trying to draw your out on the separate question about whether you feel inhibited in any way in anti-satellite weapons or other space developments, because of existing treaties, which has been the complaint of some, or whether you see a need for fresh negotiations so we don't end up with an anti-satellite warfare race in space?

RUMSFELD: Well, I don't believe there is an anti-satellite warfare race in space. I don't know that that language would be appropriate. Certainly, it has nothing to do with what we're talking about today.

There is no question but that the ABM Treaty has prevented research and development and testing and experimentation with a host of things that are prohibited by the treaty, and that is the subject of the consultations that are taking place, and such things as mobility, for example, is prohibited by the treaty. So those things will be under discussion.

Yes?

QUESTION: Secretary Rumsfeld, the commission identified the importance of space and satellite assets, and as Senator Smith articulated, the need to be able to defend and protect those. If we're not talking about putting weapons in space or anti-satellite weapons, what capabilities do you have in mind when we hear these phrases about defending or protecting U.S. space-based assets?

RUMSFELD: What we have is a whole network of things that are civilian and commercial and military that are dependent on space assets. The question is: How do you deter and dissuade people from taking action against those assets in a time of tension or conflict? And those assets have, of course, some space role. There are linkages between the space role and ground stations, and there are ground stations.

And what one has to do is to recognize the degree we are dependent on those assets, and then find ways to dissuade and deter, and if necessary defend and protect that dependency on those assets.

QUESTION: Can you give us any example of how that might work?

WATERS: The secretary of defense at the Pentagon running down one of the elements of the administration's national defense strategy, and that would be space technology used for the defense of this nation; what weapons would be used in space, if any. And what treaties might have to be either complied with or changed as a result of that strategy.

Also, he addressed the EP-3 surveillance plane which remains on Hainan Island, and China's decision not to return that plane to the United States. The defense secretary's answer to that was, we are studying China's decision.

So, not much news out of the Pentagon today. Just an indication of the news in the days ahead that we'll be needing to cover.

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