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Rice: U.S. Nearing Arms Treaty Limit
November 18, 2001

WASHINGTON (AP) - U.S. testing of a missile defense shield will approach the limits of an arms control treaty with Russia and require the two countries to ``move beyond'' the pact at some point, the president's national security adviser said Sunday.

President Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin ended their summit last week without agreement on national missile defenses. Putin reaffirmed his opposition to testing that would violate the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty; Bush's view is that the treaty is a relic and ought to be scrapped.

``The time is coming where our testing programs will start to bump up against the constraints of the treaty,'' White House aide Condoleezza Rice said.

``We're not going to violate the treaty, and that means that, one way or another, we're going to have to move beyond the ABM treaty,'' she said on NBC's ``Meet the Press.'' One option for Bush is to give six months' notice of U.S. intent to withdraw from the treaty, as the pact allows.

During their talks, the two president did agree to reduce their countries' nuclear stockpiles by two-thirds, a compromise Rice called ``a tremendous breakthrough.''

While both nations will continue to work on an agreement regarding the treaty, Bush intends to move forward with ``the robust testing and development program,'' Rice said. The administration wants to begin testing of sea-based missile defense technologies, for example, which is prohibited by the treaty.

``It is his obligation to make sure that his successors are not put in a position where we cannot defend ourselves against the now increasingly ubiquitous technologies associated with'' offensive ballistic missiles, she said.

Secretary of State Colin Powell said Bush is fully committed to developing a ``limited missile defense system'' that does not threaten Russian strategic offensive weapons.

``But they know that, sooner or later, the testing that we have to do will run into the constraints of the ABM Treaty, and when that happens we have got to get out of the constraints of the ABM Treaty,'' he said on ``Fox News Sunday.''

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