The Council for a Livable World is deeply saddened by the events of September 11. We grieve for the lost lives, the injured and the affected families. We support all necessary steps to protect Americans and the rest of the world from terrorist attacks.
For forty years, we have worked for a peaceful resolution to international conflict and the elimination of weapons of mass destruction. Weapons of mass destruction — whether in the hands of terrorists or hostile states — remain the most serious threat to U.S. and world security. The terrorists behind the recent attacks would not hesitate to use weapons of mass destruction — nuclear, chemical and biological — if they gain access to these weapons. U.S. defense and foreign policy should be directed at reducing that threat.
The United States cannot deal with terrorism, or national security in general, through a unilateral approach. Only multilateral efforts can limit access to weapons of mass destruction. The first steps include reducing U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals to the lowest possible level by negotiating, signing, and ratifying the START III treaty, approving a Protocol that strengthens the verification and enforcement provisions of the Biological Weapons Convention, and seeking Senate approval of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.
Because of their enormous arsenals, high priority should be placed on close U.S.- Russian relations to advance our mutual interests in combating terrorism, reduce and safeguard nuclear weapons and prevent the proliferation of weapons and materials to other countries and groups. More money should be put towards these efforts, as recommended by the Baker-Cutler Commission earlier this year.
In our campaign against terrorism, Russia can provide significant intelligence, logistics and staging areas. However, a unilateral United States withdrawal from the ABM Treaty could seriously jeopardize Russian cooperation. The Administration should abide by the ABM Treaty and stop threatening to abrogate it in order to deploy a national anti-missile system.
At the same time, we should not spend hundreds of billions of dollars in the frantic pursuit of a national missile defense that does not work. National missile defense is no more feasible today than it was September 10. Experts have repeatedly warned that terrorist attacks by those smuggling weapons across our borders or bombing key buildings is a much greater threat than “rogue states” launching missiles with a return address. Recent events have proved them correct.
When Congress considers the annual Defense Authorization and Appropriation bills, it should significantly reduce the Administration’s request for $8.3 billion for missile defense. The Senate Armed Service Committee’s earlier decision to cut $1.3 from the 2002 missile defense budget and allocate those funds to other military accounts, including anti-terrorism, was a very prudent approach.
We support increased appropriations that relate directly to the terrorist attacks. Strengthening airport security, putting marshals on airplanes, improving customs control, increasing human intelligence and adding funds to the Cooperative Threat Reduction program are a much higher priority than spending hundreds of billions of dollars on an unproven technology for missile defense to meet the least likely threats.
Congress has been acting in a bi-partisan manner in support of the President by focusing on the terrorist crisis. We believe it would be a serious mistake and an incorrect diversion from the crisis to withdraw from the ABM Treaty and to deploy a national missile defense that is not ready. Such action could destroy the international coalition against terrorism.