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The BBC's Jonathan Marcus
"Despite strong opposition the US missile defence system is to go ahead"
 real 56k

The BBC's Jonathan Marcus in Munich
"Gerhard Schroeder called for greater clarity about the American plans"
 real 28k

Editor of Disarmament Diplomacy Rebecca Johnson
"They have no guarantee of the technology"
 real 56k

Military analyst Alexander Pikayev
"The Russian government won't like what Mr Rumsfeld said"
 real 28k

Saturday, 3 February, 2001, 17:02 GMT
US stands by 'Star Wars'
French Defence Minister Alain Richard, Nato Secretary-General Lord Robertson, German Defence Minister Rudolf Scharping, Donald Rumsfeld
Some Western countries have misgivings
United States Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has told European ministers that President Bush's plans for a new missile defence system will go ahead - whether they like it or not.


These systems will be a threat to no one. That is a fact. They should be of concern to no one save those who would threaten others

Donald Rumsfeld
But he said the issue should not separate the US from its Nato partners, as the missile system did not pose a threat to international security.

Mr Rumsfeld was addressing a European defence conference in the German city of Munich.

Opening the conference, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder called on the US to clarify and discuss its plans openly with its European partners.

Missile test
Tests on the system failed last July
Russia and China both oppose the plan, and many western European countries have considerable misgivings about it.

The BBC defence correspondent, Jonathan Marcus, says there is also concern about the possible direction that the new Bush administration will take with regard to its allies.

But Mr Rumsfeld's own message left little doubt that the Bush administration's mind was already made up on the issue, he says.

Call for trust

Mr Rumsfeld said the rest of the world had nothing to fear.


Only in a trusting atmosphere, when we discuss with our US partners, only then is there a solid basis for decision-making

Gerhard Schroeder
"These systems will be a threat to no one," he said. "That is a fact. They should be of concern to no one save those who would threaten others."

He added that Washington had no interest in deploying defences that would separate it from its friends and allies.

They would be helped to deploy similar defences if they so wanted, he said.

But Mr Schroeder said he was not yet sure there was clarity in Europe about the US position.

"Only in a trusting atmosphere, when we discuss with our US partners, only then is there a solid basis for decision-making," he said.

Nato would have to discuss the implications of the missile defence for the alliance, as well as for Russia and China, he added.

'Instability' warning

Mr Rumsfeld also spoke about other concerns felt by Nato allies.

He said the new US administration would review its peacekeeping missions in the Balkans, but only within the scope of regular Nato reviews.

And he warned of a risk of "instability" if a new European rapid reaction force came into being.

"Actions that could reduce Nato's effectiveness by confusing duplication or by perturbing the transatlantic link would not be positive," he said.

'Son of Star Wars' graphic
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See also:

26 Jan 01 | Americas
Bush confirms 'Star Wars' plan
27 Jan 01 | Americas
The battle over missile defence
12 Jan 01 | UK Politics
Hague backs 'Star Wars' scheme
23 May 00 | Europe
Bush unveils nuclear policy
13 Dec 00 | Asia-Pacific
China tests ballistic missiles
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