Security Council Meeting
Discusses Missile Defense
The Rose Garden
The White House
December 13, 2001
9:58 A.M. EST
Good morning. I've just concluded a meeting of my National Security Council.
We reviewed what I discussed with my friend, President Vladimir Putin, over
the course of many meetings, many months. And that is the need for America to
move beyond the 1972 Anti Ballistic Missile treaty.
Today, I have given formal notice to Russia, in accordance with the treaty,
that the United States of America is withdrawing from this almost 30 year old
treaty. I have concluded the ABM treaty hinders our government's ability to
develop ways to protect our people from future terrorist or rogue state missile
The 1972 ABM treaty was signed by the United States and the Soviet Union at
a much different time, in a vastly different world. One of the signatories,
the Soviet Union, no longer exists. And neither does the hostility that once
led both our countries to keep thousands of nuclear weapons on hair-trigger
alert, pointed at each other. The grim theory was that neither side would launch
a nuclear attack because it knew the other would respond, thereby destroying
Today, as the events of September the 11th made all too clear, the greatest
threats to both our countries come not from each other, or other big powers
in the world, but from terrorists who strike without warning, or rogue states
who seek weapons of mass destruction.
We know that the terrorists, and some of those who support them, seek the ability
to deliver death and destruction to our doorstep via missile. And we must have
the freedom and the flexibility to develop effective defenses against those
attacks. Defending the American people is my highest priority as Commander in
Chief, and I cannot and will not allow the United States to remain in a treaty
that prevents us from developing effective defenses.
At the same time, the United States and Russia have developed a new, much more
hopeful and constructive relationship. We are moving to replace mutually assured
destruction with mutual cooperation. Beginning in Ljubljana, and continuing
in meetings in Genoa, Shanghai, Washington and Crawford, President Putin and
I developed common ground for a new strategic relationship. Russia is in the
midst of a transition to free markets and democracy. We are committed to forging
strong economic ties between Russia and the United States, and new bonds between
Russia and our partners in NATO. NATO has made clear its desire to identify
and pursue opportunities for joint action at 20.
I look forward to visiting Moscow, to continue our discussions, as we seek a
formal way to express a new strategic relationship that will last long beyond
our individual administrations, providing a foundation for peace for the years
We're already working closely together as the world rallies in the war against
terrorism. I appreciate so much President Putin's important advice and cooperation
as we fight to dismantle the al Qaeda network in Afghanistan. I appreciate his
commitment to reduce Russia's offensive nuclear weapons. I reiterate our pledge
to reduce our own nuclear arsenal between 1,700 and 2,200 operationally deployed
strategic nuclear weapons. President Putin and I have also agreed that my decision
to withdraw from the treaty will not, in any way, undermine our new relationship
or Russian security.
As President Putin said in Crawford, we are on the path to a fundamentally different
relationship. The Cold War is long gone. Today we leave behind one of its last
But this is not a day for looking back. This is a day for looking forward with
hope, and anticipation of greater prosperity and peace for Russians, for Americans
and for the entire world.