Washington (AFP) July 16, 2000 - US presidential hopefuls voiced their views on US missile defenses Sunday, with Democratic Vice President Al Gore seemingly cautious and Republican Governor George W. Bush gung-ho over defense policy that may now be decided by the next president.|
Top lawmakers and others have urged President Bill Clinton to let his successor decide the fate of a proposed anti-missile shield following the failure of the latest Pentagon test of anti-missile technology on July 8.
Asked if he agreed the decision should be delayed, Gore declined to comment.
"I'm not going to forestall President Clinton's judgment on that question. That's his judgment to make," he said on NBC's Meet the Press.
"The lessons that came out of the recent test have to be analyzed and understood," Gore said.
"There are legitimate questions that are raised and I think it can benefit from an intensive review."
Pentagon plans call for deployment of a targeting radar and 20 interceptors in Alaska by 2005, with another 100 missiles by 2007, in a 60 billion-dollar program to guard against possible missile attacks by so-called "rogue nations."
However, in last weekend's technology test, the Pentagon failed to shoot down one missile with another, leading to warnings by key senators that a national missile defense (NMD) system was not yet technologically feasible.
Critics of the proposal say the potential for such attacks has been exaggerated and that the shield could destabilize US ties with Russia and China and violate the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) treaty signed by Russia and the United States.
"It's only responsible to investigate whether or not it's possible to protect our nation against that kind of threat without re-igniting the arms race with Russia or starting a new one with China," Gore said.
"We don't want to discard the ABM treaty and trigger the chance of a renewed arms competition," he said.
However, Bush called for expanded anti-missile research and a "full-scale effort" to put a deterrent in place, in an interview with ABC's "This Week."
"When I am president, I'm going to have a full-scale effort to make sure we develop an anti-ballistic missile system that will shoot down somebody else's missiles that will reflect the true threat facing America and our allies," the Republican governor of Texas said.
Bush called for expanded research into anti-missile technology and decried limitations imposed by the ABM treaty.
"Under the current ABM Treaty, we are not allowed to test sea-based systems. We are not allowed to test sensors off of satellites. So it makes it very hard for us to be able to deploy the most effective systems."
Bush said a system that intercepts rockets immediately after launch might be more effective than the missile defense system recently tested by the Pentagon, which is designed to intercept a long-range missile as it re-enters the atmosphere en route to its target.
"Why would we want to put a system in place that doesn't work? You've got to understand that recent failed test was a failure of old technology, not new technology," Bush said.
In the early hours of July 8, the Pentagon launched a target missile from California, then an interceptor missile from a Pacific atoll, but the interceptor missed the target missile.
The Pentagon says the program is needed by 2005, when US intelligence services estimate that North Korea is likely to have long-range missiles capable of striking the United States.
Russia, China and European countries are opposed to the US missile defense shield, because they believe it could upset international arms control regimes and give too much power to the United States.
by Jun Kwan-Woo
Seoul (AFP) July 14, 2000 - The United States and South Korea will reach an agreement which will put most of North Korea within range of Seoul's missiles by the end of the year, officials said after talks here Friday.
"Both sides agreed to reach a full accord within several months with progress being made today," a South Korean foreign ministry official said following informal talks with the US team.
"It means the deal will come out by the end of this year."
Song Bong-Heon, another ministry official responsible for missile issues, said prior to Friday's talks he expected the US and South Korea to agree a deal at the next round of formal discussions between the two sides.
No date or venue has been yet arranged for the proposed meeting.
"We expect to seal a final deal at the next round of formal talks," said Song, before the meeting with the US team headed by Robert Einhorn, assistant secretary of state for non-proliferation.
South Korea is eventually hoping to be granted membership of the Missile Control Technology Regime (MCTR), an international agreement which bars signatories from developing missiles capable of travelling further than 300 kilometres (187.5 miles).
Under an existing bilateral accord with the United States signed in 1979, South Korea's missiles are limited to a range of 180 kilometres (112 miles).
US officials in Seoul have recently stated that a deal over MCTR is likely.
US envoy to Seoul Stephen Bosworth said last week that the two sides were in the "final stages" of negotiations.
Seoul officials admitted however there still remained "three or four" unresolved issues but remain optimistic the deal could be reached before the end of this year.
South Korea has long sought to unshackle the missile range ceiling to cope with possible missile attacks by rival North Korea.
Seoul's Yonhap News Agency said the United States has already agreed in principle to allow South Korea to develop missiles capable of flying around 300 kilometers to hit targets in most of North Korea.
Despite a thaw in relations following last month's historic inter-Korean summit, the two Koreas remain technically at war following the bitter 1950-53 conflict. No formal peace treaty has been signed between the two.
North Korea stunned its neighbors in August 1998 by test-firing a rocket over Japan, suspected of being a long-range missile.
Washington has since tried to stymy North Korea's missile program.
Earlier this week, Einhorn held negotiations with North Korean officials in Kuala Lumpur which ended in deadlock Wednesday.
The US team had been hoping to reach an agreement with the North to halt its missile development program.
But the talks faltered after the North's negotiators demanded one billion dollars in compensation for halting its programs. The US rejected the demand out of hand.