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Sec. Clinton Expresses Support for Alaska’s Missile Defense System


System Not Included in Arms Reduction Treaty with Russia

A proposed nuclear arms reduction agreement between the United States and Russia does not affect Alaska's ground-based missiles, a system which is important to America's overall defense, according to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Secretary Clinton made those comments today during a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee, attended by committee member U.S. Sen. Mark Begich.

"The treaty does not constrain our missile defense efforts," Clinton told the senators. "Those of you who worked with me on this committee know my strong support of missile defense, so I want to make this point very clearly."

"The treaty also includes language prohibiting the conversion or use of offensive missile launchers for missile defense interceptors, and vice versa. But as General O'Reilly, our Missile Defense Director, has said, it is actually cheaper to build smaller, tailor-made missile defense silos than to convert offensive launchers. And the treaty does not restrict us from building new missile defense launchers, 14 of which are currently being constructed in Alaska," she added.

Begich, who has worked to protect and fund the ground-based missile defense system at Fort Greely, welcomed Secretary Clinton's comments.

"Especially at a time of high tension with North Korea, Alaska's missile defense system is important to Alaska and America's defense," Begich said. "I welcome Secretary Clinton's assurances that the system is outside the provisions of the arms treaty and important to the Obama administration."

Today's hearing focused on the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, which was signed in April between the U.S. and Russia to limit nuclear arms by both nations. President Obama recently submitted the treaty to the Senate for ratification and urged quick action.

Today's hearing was the first by the Armed Services panel on the treaty. In addition to Clinton, other witnesses include Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen.

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