Biden in 2001: ‘I Worry That a Narrow-Minded Pursuit of Missile Defense’ Could Damage ‘Negotiations with North Korea’

By Patrick Burke | April 4, 2013 | 9:56pm EDT

Vice President Joe Biden. (AP)

( -- While the United States now is utilizing its missile defense systems in the wake of saber-rattling by North Korea, back on July 24, 2001, then Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.) chaired a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing in which he said in a prepared statement, “I worry that a narrow-minded pursuit of missile defense” would “derail” U.S. negotiations with the Communist-run North Korea.


In his statement, Biden criticized the Bush administration proposal for a missile defense system, questioning whether the costs of missile defense outweighed its benefits.

“I worry that funds devoted to missile defense, or the recent tax cut, are hurting our ability to meet these more current and realistic threats,” Biden said.

“And I worry that a narrow-minded pursuit of missile defense, without having any notion of what missile defense to develop, could derail both our programs in Russia, as well as our negotiations with North Korea,” he added.

Biden went on to ask whether the Bush plan for a missile defense system would make the United States “more, or less, secure.”


North Korean Communist leader Kim Jong-un convenes an urgent meeting of top generals. (Photo: Rodong Sinmun)

“Is what the administration appears to be proposing worth the downside risks? At the end of the day, will the administration's missile defense program make us more, or less, secure? Will the benefits outweigh the costs?” Biden said in the statement.


That hearing in 2001 was held in the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and was entitled, “The Administration’s Missile Defense Program and the ABM

Treaty.” In addition to Biden, some other committee members questioned Bush administration plans for a missile defense system.

Initially, President Bush wanted to invest $8.3 billion for the development of a missile defense system that would in part defend against threats from unfriendly states such as North Korea.

“There are dangerous capabilities being developed at this very moment that we do not know about, and which we may not know about for years, perhaps only after they are deployed,” according to written testimony from then Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas J. Feith.

“North Korea is currently developing the Taepo Dong 2 missile, which will be able to strike even deeper into U.S. territory and carry an even larger weapons payload,” he later added.

Two days earlier on July 22, Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin—who at the time had been in office for about three months—agreed to talks that coupled a U.S. missile defense system with a mutual reduction in nuclear arms.

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