President Clinton and Russian President Vladimir Putin June 4 signed
the first document the United States and Russia have ever agreed to
for a permanent joint operation involving U.S. and Russian military
The White House Fact Sheet on the agreement to establish a Joint
Warning Center for the exchange of information on missile launches and
early warning calls it a significant milestone in ensuring strategic
stability between the United States and Russia."
Following is the White House Fact Sheet:
Agreement On The Establishment Of A Joint Warning Center For The
Exchange Of Information On Missile Launches And Early Warning
President Clinton and President Putin today signed the Memorandum Of
Agreement Between The Government Of The United States and Government
Of The Russian Federation On The Establishment Of A Joint Center For
The Exchange Of Data From Early Warning Systems And Notifications Of
This agreement - which is the first time the United States and Russia
have agreed to a permanent joint operation involving U.S. and Russian
military personnel -- is a significant milestone in ensuring strategic
stability between the United States and Russia. It establishes a Joint
Data Exchange Center (JDEC) in Moscow for the exchange of information
derived from each side's missile launch warning systems on the
launches of ballistic missiles and space launch vehicles.
The exchange of this data will strengthen strategic stability by
further reducing the danger that ballistic missiles might be launched
on the basis of false warning of attack. It will also promote
increased mutual confidence in the capabilities of the ballistic
missile early warning systems of both sides.
The JDEC will build upon the successful establishment and operation
during the millennium rollover of the temporary joint center for Y2K
Strategic Stability in Colorado Springs. The JDEC will be staffed 24
hours a day, seven days a week, with American and Russian personnel.
The JDEC is also intended to serve as the repository for the
notifications to be provided as part of an agreed system for
exchanging pre-launch notifications on the launches of ballistic
missiles and space launch vehicles. This agreement is currently being
negotiated separately. (ends)
Press Briefing By Senior Administration Officials
On Early Warning System Agreement
The National Hotel
Moscow, Russia, June 4 at 4:03 P.M.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Later this afternoon, President
Clinton and President Putin will sign a memorandum of agreement, whose
formal title is on the Establishment of the Joint Center for the
Exchange of Data from Early Warning Systems and Notification of
Missile Launches. Informally, this whole endeavor over the last couple
of years has been known as the Shared Early Warning Initiative.
It builds on a joint statement that was agreed, as was noted earlier,
between President Yeltsin and President Clinton here in Moscow in
early September of 1998, when they had a joint statement on the
exchange of early warning type of data, and the potential
establishment of a multilateral notification system for the launch of
This culminates a set of negotiations that have been ongoing off and
on, given the nature of our relationships here between the two
countries, but were intensified this spring and brought to conclusion
just within the last week or so, and were really finally brought to
conclusion by this impending summit and concluded as we have gone into
the negotiations today.
The purpose of this whole effort is to provide a near real-time
exchange of the detected information about the launch of ballistic
missiles and space-launch vehicles that are detected by the warning
systems of the two sides. The warning systems in this case are the
space-based satellites, infrared systems, and the early warning radars
The reason we do this is we seek to strengthen strategic stability
between the sides, mutual deterrents, by further reducing the danger
that ballistic missiles might be launched on the basis of false
warning of attack. There has been concern about this possibility off
and on for many, many years. The concerns were raised again in the
mid-1990s on this, and this led to the initiative to begin work in
this area, which is now concluding with the agreement to move forward
to create a joint warning center.
The joint warning center in question will be located here in Moscow.
That location had been agreed last in September, but now we've gone
into much more detail, and that center will be established over the
next year or so. And then there will be a period of operational
testing for about three months, and then the center will be fully
Now, there are other purposes that are also served by the creation of
this center. One of those purposes is to increase the mutual
confidence between the sides about the effectiveness of their early
warning systems. And it also is a way to focus attention on the
continuing worldwide proliferation of ballistic missiles.
As far as the operation of the center is concerned, it will be the
first time that American and Russian military personnel will be
permanently involved in a joint military operation over an extended
period. Once established, the current agreement provides for 10 years
of operation of this joint warning center, and with the option to
successively, by mutual agreement, extend the existence of the center
for subsequent five-year periods.
The type of information that is provided is the type of information
that these launched section sensors typically produce -- the
geographic area from which a launch has occurred, the time at which a
launch has occurred, the generic type of missile as best they can
detect that is involved here, the azmuth of the launch, the projected
area of impact of a ballistic missile, and the projected time at which
that missile would impact.
For space launches, of course, instead you get the front end. You get
the information about the time of launch, the area of the launch, the
generic nature of the missile in question, and the general azmuth in
which it is proceeding.
This whole center, of course, as you may well remember, builds upon
recent successful experience between the two sides. At the time of the
rollover into the year 2000, there was a temporary center of very
similar character that was established in the last days of 1999 at
Colorado Springs, Colorado. It was jointly manned by Russian and
American military experts from the last days of '99 in through the
first couple of weeks of the year 2000. That experience was very
valuable for us in getting a way to work out what amount to the
procedures, the modes of presentation of the data.
What will happen will be that the personnel of the two countries, once
the joint center is established, will sit side by side and see desktop
computer projections, geographic map-oriented projections, of the
relevant information once detections are made. This information will
also be provided in alpha numeric form about longitude and latitude
and so forth, but easily the most visible and accessible information
is that that will be available in these projections.
Let me close at this time and be open to your questions.
Q: Would this system give Russians full access to any information the
United States had about a ballistic missile launch anywhere in the
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The system is to be set up in phases,
and by the end of the third phase, it will include information on
ballistic missile and space launches of third parties. It will only do
so when there is some indication, because of the azimuth of the
projected missile or space launch, that it might come over the
territory of one of the two parties that are signatories to this
There is also a provision, if either side believes that there is some
ambiguity, and there might be danger of false interpretation with
serious consequences, they have the option of providing that
information to the other side.
Q: -- it would be completed by when?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The phases, they will begin the whole
process, if we are able to keep the schedule we've projected, in the
fall of 2001. And we seek to move through the phases kind of as
rapidly as possible. We don't -- we look to them to be in the matter
of a few months.
Q: I'm sorry, this will be blind to any launches that would not be
headed for either the United States or Russia? Are you going to filter
that out? Or why would you not want to know any launch?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: It would be -- the data provided
between the two parties will include all of their ballistic missiles.
As far as the third parties are concerned, it is limited in the manner
in which I just described.
Q: But how is it limited? I mean, is it limited technically, or just
because you're filtering it out?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: It's limited by the filtering that
will be done by both sides, because this was the agreement on what
they agreed to display.
Q: But won't you lose a lot of valuable potential information by doing
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: We don't think so, not for the
purposes it was set up. The purposes it was set up is to avoid the
possibility of false warning of attack.
Q: But if the President wants to share information with the allies to
provide for a missile defense system that everyone could use, why
would you not want to also look at this information? If someone
launches a missile towards England or something, it wouldn't know
that, it wouldn't tell you?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: This is about a shared early-warning
system between the United States and Russia. These are the parameters
under which that sharing will occur.
Q: On that same subject, though, there was a famous incident several
years ago in which a Norwegian research missile launched, and the
Russians apparently misinterpreted that as something else. As I
understand it, under the system you set up that missile launch, were
it to be repeated, would not be part of that system?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No, that's not really the case,
because it does provide that information on detected launches which
could create an ambiguous or dangerous situation will be provided by
Q: Who makes that decision?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: -- we would consider that -- well, it
will have to be made on a case-by-case basis as a case emerges. So
it's within the warning system networks of the two sides.
Q: When you say it would automatically, given the very narrow time
constraints that you're operating under here --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: This is the manner in which it was
agreed and arranged.
Q: Will Russia and the United States have equal access to all the data
that is picked up by this system? Even if --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Yes. The system displays in the joint
warning center, side by side, the data of the two sides according to
these parameters. Each side provides it, makes it available for
real-time consultation between the specialist officers who are there.
Those officers in turn will be in reliable direct communication to the
appropriate command posts, command centers that concern themselves
with these matters on both sides.
Q: Is the information provided instantly? And how does this compare
with any similar system of sharing information the U.S. might have
with Britain or any friendly, civilized countries? (Laughter.)
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The information is processed
information, but it is provided within a time which is measured in a
minute or less. So it is virtually real-time information, because
that's what's important in this case. And it is similar in fidelity to
that provided to others.
Q: Could you mention some of the others?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I'd rather not.
Q: You mean it's a security matter whether we share information with
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I'm not sure I have an accurate --
Q: But it isn't a security matter whether we share information with
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: In all truth, I'm not up to date on
all the ones there are --
Q: I see. Okay.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: -- and I'd rather not begin those and
leave someone out, and something of the sort.
Q: Can you tell us, does this include only detections and not planned
launches? And what's the volume of data, based on past experience,
that you expect to exchange through this?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I don't know the volume of data. I
could try to look into that.
We hope to complement this with a pre-launch notification system of a
multi-national character, which was proposed back in 1998. And we have
been negotiating with the Russians, and continue to negotiate with
them, on that matter. And we believe that the best combination will be
when you have a pre-launch notification database, which in turn can be
consulted as one in fact encounters the detection of real launches. It
remains to be seen when we complete that second part of this overall
Q: So just to follow up, if we launch some kind of missile in a test,
we don't tell them about it until it actually fires?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: We have some other obligations that
others might be able to tell, that are connected to our previous
strategic arms control agreements in this manner. I can check on the
specifics, but in those type of things, we already tend to exchange
information under earlier agreements.
Q: Was the motivation for this agreement the Norwegian incident, where
Russia went on alert over that research --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: It is certainly one of the most
publicly known incidents that did spark broader interest in this
potential problem of launching on the basis of false warning that one
was under attack. I wouldn't say it was the only source; for instance,
this type of idea was being discussed between the two sides as early
as the early 1990s, and that preceded the Norwegian incident.
Q: To follow up on that, have there been a number of incidents where
the Russians have gone on alert that we know about that haven't been
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Not to my knowledge.
Q: Who actually makes the display? Will there be a Russian display
which then they can relay information to the United States side, and
will there be a U.S. display which there would then be -- which the
U.S. would relay information to Russia about? It would not be the same
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: They are not a single integrated
display, they are side-by-side displays of the kind you described.
Q: If we happened to see, say, an Israeli launch or something like
that, and it wasn't headed to Russia, we are under no obligation to
say a word about it; is that correct?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: That's correct.
Q: Thank you.
Q: Who actually makes the decision about whether a third country
launch is sufficiently ambiguous to warrant --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Clearly, those parameters will be
established by the particular operational entities that monitor the
launch process all the time. And they will have very clear guidelines
about the provision of most things, and they will have to have some
guidelines on this question of potentially threatening.
Q: Going back to the case of the Norwegian incident where one side --
the West -- thought it was completely unambiguous and unthreatening,
and the other side saw it as potentially quite ominous -- I mean,
isn't there a potential disconnect here?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I think not. We specifically tried to
capture that kind of an incident, and we would believe that rocket
launches close to the periphery of Russia would generally merit such
attention. On the numbers question, there will be 16 Americans
associated -- I mean, the individual, the military personnel that
worked on this process. There will be a counterpart number of 17
Russians that are directly in the crews that rotate and provide the
round-the-clock coverage. Once this is done, it is round-the-clock, 24
and seven, through the 10 years.
There are another 60 or so personnel that will be associated with the
security and upkeep of the installation itself here in Moscow.
Q: Will the Colorado facility be shut down or is that defunct now, or
is that --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: It's already been shut down. It was,
in fact, before the rollover, but it proved to be a very useful test
bed on both hardware and procedures.
Q: What information will this provide to American security analysts
and is this available already through the assets the United States
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The purpose here is to provide near
real-time launch detection data which tends to have for a ballistic
missile, I mean, tends to have a half-life in importance only for a
few tens of minutes. That data doesn't tend to be made available to
American security analysts that I'm aware of on any regular basis.
That's really the purpose of this, is to use this what's called
tactical warning data and make it mutually available.
Q: Let me go back to the disposal of plutonium --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: You've got the wrong person --
Q: I guess I'm not clear why exactly you need a joint center. I mean,
why can't the two countries sort of provide the information to each
other? Is there a symbolic element to this?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No, it's much more than symbolic.
There certainly is a symbolic element, but it's much beyond that. It
provides a direct, face-to-face ability to do consultations. If there
is some issue of ambiguity, it allows one of the two sides that has
some uncertainties to immediately deal with people they know on a day
to day basis and relay their uncertainties and those individuals in
turn are in direct, permanent, secure communications back to their
higher headquarters, if you will, and they are able, therefore, to
relay that same concern to the senior leadership on the other side and
seek to resolve any ambiguities within minutes.
Q: So given that, how high a level are the officials going to be that
are going to be looking at this?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The officials here tend to be, I
guess, up through probably about company-grade officers, up through
lieutenants and captains, that will be the professionals manning this.
The heads of the teams are likely to be somewhat more senior than
that. But they will have access to watch officers on both sides who
are colonels and generals.
Q: And will there be any new national technical means developed for
this, or will it use only existing?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: It is to use the existing means. As
those means evolve over time, they will be coupled into the system.
Q: Not specifically for this?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Not specifically for this. This is to
take advantage of the existing and the evolving warning systems of the
MR. HAMMER: Thank you very much. Just an announcement in terms of
further briefings today. You may have heard that after the President's
press conference, Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott will come
for an on-the-record, on-camera briefing, and then after that, Gene
Sperling will brief on the economic summit. Thank you.
Q: When will that be?
MR. HAMMER: It's all depending on when the press conference ends. Yes,
immediately after the press conference.
THE PRESS: Thank you. (end of transcript)