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US tells disarmament conference that missile treaty has become obsolete

US tells disarmament conference that missile treaty has become obsolete

A representative of the United States this morning told the Geneva-based Conference on Disarmament that the Anti-Ballistic Missiles (ABM) Treaty had become obsolete.

Responding to a statement made last week by China's delegate, US Ambassador Robert Grey said that the ABM had become a relic, adding that the United States and the Russian Federation needed to work out a new security framework. The United States realized that the principle of nuclear deterrence would remain important for strategic stability for many years to come, but there was a need to move beyond "mutual assured destruction" and to continue to make substantial reductions in the number of offensive weapons, he said.

Ambassador Grey stressed that his country fully understood that its missile defence had significant implications for China and for many other members of the international community, but found it difficult to understand how defensive measures could be considered threatening. Stressing that his country's missile defence plans were not aimed at the Russian Federation or China, he said the United States wanted to build affirmative and forward-looking relations with Moscow and Beijing on political, economic and cultural levels, and the issue of missile defence should not stand in the way.

Also addressing the meeting, the representative of India, Rakesh Sood, observed that despite all efforts, the Conference was ending another year without having

undertaken any substantive work because of its inability to agree on a programme of work. He expressed concerns that there were no positive signs on the horizon to dispel the growing collective pessimism.

Ambassador Sood charged that the current impasse was caused by the inflexible positions of a few delegations which had blocked agreement on the two outstanding issues - nuclear disarmament and outer space. The international disarmament agenda was in a state of flux caused by certain unilateral arrangements that threatened the very edifice of the multilateral negotiation process, he said, pointing out that despite its current deadlock, the Conference still constituted the best forum for official multilateral dialogue on issues of concern.