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  Pentagon Puts Off Missile Testing

By Robert Burns
AP Military Writer
Thursday, Oct. 25, 2001; 1:34 p.m. EDT

WASHINGTON –– The Pentagon announced Thursday it has put off several missile defense tests this fall in order to avoid being accused of violating the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty that prohibits nationwide missile defenses.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld made the announcement at a Pentagon news conference.

"We will not violate the treaty while it remains in force," Rumsfeld said. "In recent days, to keep from having it suggested that we might not be keeping that commitment, we have voluntarily restrained our ballistic missile defense test program."

Rumsfeld described the decision as providing an impetus for further discussions. President Bush is scheduled to discuss it with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Texas in mid-November.

He cited three planned tests that have been put off:

– On Oct. 24, an Aegis radar on a surface ship had been scheduled to track a strategic ballistic missile launched as a target for a missile interceptor.

– During the Oct. 24 test, the Aegis radar was scheduled to have tracked the interceptor missile. And during the same test, a tracking radar at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., was to have tracked the target missile.

– An Aegis radar was to have tracked a Titan 2 missile scheduled for launch Nov. 14.

Although Rumsfeld and Bush have maintained that the 1972 ABM treaty is outdated and an unnecessary impediment to developing an effective defense against long-range missiles, they have not yet withdrawn from the treaty.

"For sometime now, we've advised the Congress and the government of the Russian Federation that the planned missile defense testing program that we had was going to bump up against the ABM Treaty. That has now happened," Rumsfeld said.

By putting off these tests, the Bush administration is allowing more time for talks with Russia on how to move beyond the ABM treaty. Russia wants to keep the treaty in force, arguing that it is important for global security.

© Copyright 2001 The Associated Press

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