Bush commits U.S. to missile defense; calls ABM treaty relic

Tuesday, May 1st 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) _ President Bush on Tuesday committed the United States to building a defense against ballistic missile attack, and indicated he would not allow a Cold War-era arms treaty to stand in the way.

In a speech at the National Defense University, Bush called the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty _ which prohibits large-scale missile defenses _ a relic of the Cold War.

``We must move beyond the constraints of the 30-year-old ABM treaty,'' the president said. ``This treaty does not recognize the present or point us to the future. It enshrines the past.''

Bush did not say the United States would withdraw from the treaty but he focused much of his speech on what he views as its shortcomings.

``We need a new framework that allows us to build missile defenses to counter the different threats of today's world,'' Bush said.

The president's remarks marked the start of an intensified campaign to convince America's European and Asian allies _ as well as Russia, China and others hostile to the idea of missile defense _ that attacks by ballistic missiles can best be deterred by defenses rather than large offenses.