Powell, Rice stress commitment to missile defense
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Secretary of State Colin Powell said Sunday the Bush administration remains committed to pursuing a national missile defense system, even if it means scrapping a long-standing treaty with Russia.
President Bush made developing such a system a priority on the campaign trail, despite criticism from Democrats and international leaders that it would violate the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty with Russia.
Speaking on ABC's This Week, Powell made clear that such concerns wouldn't deter the White House from "pursuing a deliberate course of action with respect to missile defense," which he described as a matter of national interest.
"At some point, we will bump up against the limits of the ABM treaty, "Powell said. "At that time, we will have to negotiate with the Russians, what modifications might be appropriate, and we have to hold out the possibility that it may be necessary to leave that treaty if it is no longer serving our purpose."
National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice echoed those comments on CNN's "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer." She said much had changed in nearly 30 years and, as such, the development of a missile defense systems was justified.
"The president is committed to restructuring the nuclear relationship and making defenses against limited threats from rogue states or accidental launch a part of the new, restructured relationship," Rice said.
"We understand that there's a lot of work to do with the allies and the Russians, but we believe that, with the proper context and with the chance to do the diplomacy, we can make this work."
Powell said the development of a missile defense system was not imminent.
"It's not something that's going to happen tomorrow and it's not something that's going to happen without full consultation with our friends and allies," Powell said.
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