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Under Secretary Feith Joint Media Availability

Under Secretary Feith Joint Media Availability with Russian First Deputy Chief

NEWS TRANSCRIPT from the United States Department of Defense

DoD News Briefing
Douglas Feith, USD Policy
Wednesday, January 16, 2002 - 1:40 p.m. EST

(Joint media availability with First Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Federation Armed Forces, General-Colonel Yuri Nikolayevich Baluyevskiy. Baluyevskiy made his remarks through a translator.)

Feith: Good afternoon.

We have just completed -- General Baluyevskiy and I have just completed two days of discussions on developing the U.S.-Russian relationship. The talks that we've had here have continued a process that has been going on for six or seven months, discussing the way to create a U.S.-Russian relationship that is cooperative, that is friendly, that does not have any of the hostile features that characterized the U.S.-Soviet relationship during the Cold War. Our intention is to create a new and cooperative relationship that allows us to build on the kind of work that we've done together since September 11th in the war on terrorism.

We discussed a number of issues. We discussed our work together in the war on terrorism. We discussed the issue of offensive nuclear forces and the reductions that the United States and Russia have already announced. And we discussed the Nuclear Posture Review that the United States has done, has recently completed and sent to the Congress. And we discussed missile defense. We discussed a range of issues.

We have created in these meetings -- we've made a decision to create a number of working groups that are going to explore aspects of our relationship and work to develop arrangements that we can make, agreements that we might want to achieve and record in documents that we can propose to our ministers, to Secretary Rumsfeld and Minister Ivanov.

The work that we are doing is laying the groundwork for meetings at the ministerial level, and then of course the work that is being done at the ministerial level here in the defense channel will be combined with the work that's being done in the Foreign Ministry channel and help prepare the way for the meetings between President Bush and President Putin in May.

Baluyevskiy: I'm not going to repeat the words of Mr. Feith. I'd like to only add that our meeting, today's meeting, is the continuation of our work, which we began in August last year.

The feature of today's or of nowadays' meeting is that this meeting is held in new time, in the time after December 13th, when United States unilaterally announced its unilateral withdrawal from the ABM Treaty. And of course, after this statement, there are some new specific circumstances and a specific atmosphere in which we conduct our activity. But I'd like to stress it that neither Russian nor American service members -- they do not make a tragedy of this fact, and we are working very hard to looking for a mutual ground on which we can keep working in the future.

However, we consider that their unilateral withdrawal from the treaty is a mistake on the side of the United States, and we consider that the United States hadn't do this.

As to our practical work, we've already worked out some measures, following which we'll be able to -- would be able to prepare a document which would be signed during the visit of President Bush to Moscow in May or June this year.

Our approach is towards this document, as I believe, very simple and understandable. These are providing equal security to both sides. There is predictability and transparency of our nuclear policy of both our sides. There is a reduction of strategic offensive weapons in connection with strategic defensive weapons. There is legal obligations over both sides while conducting reductions of their forces. We've already -- we've already submitted our -- our opinions to our American colleagues and are, in the future, we are going to rely on these principles while prepare the -- these fundamental documents of our activity.

Thank you.

(In English.) Thank you.

Q: Colonel-General, this statement you're talking about -- is this a statement of principle, or are you looking to actually say, for instance, what the new ceiling on offensive weapons will be, whether you have any interest -- we all know your feeling about the ABM treaty -- whether you have any interest in cooperation with the United States on defensive technology? Will you deal with specifics of curbing the arms race or reducing -- we used to call the arms race -- or reducing nuclear dangers, or is it another statement of good will, which we've heard before?

Baluyevskiy: Maybe our -- I'm not clear -- our -- I'm not -- I didn't clearly understood the point of your question. But as to the cooperation, our -- Mr. Feith already stressed out that the point of one of the working groups is to the activity in the field of military technical cooperation. And our -- so that is why we see the event -- this activity is necessary for the cooperation between United States and the Russian Federation. With reference to ceiling over strategic weapons, they are already defined by our president. And the Russian Federation is happy with the specific number within the region of 1,700 to 2,200 warheads.

Q: General Baluyevskiy --

Q: It is not codified. Excuse me, to follow up. It is not codified. It's an expression of intention. The U.S. warheads will be put four feet away from the missiles. It seems to be based on trust. Will this statement you're working on for May or June be an effort to codify, to make a formal agreement with specific numbers in it?

Baluyevskiy: I'd like to make it clear, you are talking about a statement -- you are talking about a statement, but I am talking about a legally binding document.

Feith: I just want to say, General Baluyevskiy reviewed for you a number of the principles that he proposed. We discussed them. We find that a number of those principles conform with ideas that we have about developing. We are going to be having discussions to see where we can find agreement and develop arrangements for practical cooperation in these areas. When we talk about transparency and predictability, we're talking about building up the confidence of the United States and Russia that we know what the forces are that each side has and that we have a degree of confidence about what the plans are with regard to those force.

Q: General?

Baluyevskiy: I'd like to add, we are for transparency. We are for predictability. But also we are for irreversibility of the reduction of the nuclear forces.

Q: Can I follow up on that? You said irreversibility. Were you surprised, disappointed, or what was your reaction to the U.S. nuclear posture proposal not to destroy the warheads, but rather to store them?

Baluyevskiy: Have you read this posture?

Q: We had a briefing on it, yes.

Baluyevskiy: That is the point of our further talks.

Q: Do you think it would be necessary for United States and Russia to sign some kind of new formal agreement concerning their mutual plans to cut back their strategic arsenals?

Feith: The approach that we're taking is we are looking for areas where we can cooperate and areas where we can agree. And we have the working group structure set up to explore that. There are going to be a number of working groups. We've begun to name the leaders of the working groups and start talking about schedules. We're going to approach this very practically. And if we can achieve agreement, then we will be pleased to record that agreement. We will decide on what the appropriate form for that is, depending on what it is we agree to. We're open to any kind of document that is appropriate for the subject matter that we can reach agreement on.

Staff: Ladies and gentlemen, we'll have to make this the last one.

Q: General, is it Russia's intention to also keep the removed warheads in ready reserve, or is it your preference to destroy them? And if it is your preference to destroy them, will you nevertheless keep them in reserve if the United States does the same thing?

Baluyevskiy: We are following the principle that in the last -- the whole nuclear weapons should be destroyed. But we clearly understand that it's not a matter of a day or a matter of a year, or a matter even of decades. So our principle lies in that the warheads dismounted from the -- war charges dismounted from the carriers should be destroyed and eliminated. But these carriers should be reproduced to those which wouldn't be used in military sphere no more.

Q: Thank you very much.


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