ACCESSION NUMBER:382002 FILE ID:PO1206 DATE:03/07/95 TITLE:CONGRESSIONAL REPORT, TUESDAY, MARCH 7 (03/07/95) TEXT:*95030706.PO1 CONGRESSIONAL REPORT, TUESDAY, MARCH 7 (Russian parliamentarians) (590) RUSSIAN PARLIAMENTARIANS MEET WITH HOUSE PANEL The deputy chairman of the Russian parliament's Defense Committee says the START II agreement on strategic arms reduction is "one of the highest priority" arms control agreements to be considered for ratification by the parliament. Speaking through an interpreter at a March 6 press conference, Alexander Piskunov said he does not anticipate "any serious objections" to ratification. But he alluded to some "technical and economic problems" associated with the Russian ratification process, also noting that the timing of U.S. efforts to develop Ballistic Missile Defenses (BMD) could create "some very serious problems." Piskunov and other members of the Russian Defense Committee met for three hours with members of the House National Security Committee. Piskunov told reporters later that new BMD development "would have some serious consequences" in terms of the parliament's ratification of START II, given the fact that both sides are talking about "partnership." But National Security Committee Chair Floyd Spence told the visiting delegation that "a global defense initiative" is needed to protect the United States from "new world realities." And committee member Duncan Hunter recalled that the United States had experienced casualties from an Iraqi Scud ballistic missile attack in Saudi Arabia during Operation Desert Storm. "We are somewhat unique in that sense," he explained, "and we intend to protect our troops in theater and we are developing a number of systems to do that." At the same time, Hunter noted, the United States does "not wish to build a new ABM (Anti-Ballistic Missile) Treaty that will constrain the development of those theater systems." Piskunov noted that there is a sentiment in his committee that the remaining level of weapons after implementation of START II would still be "very high" and that prospects for ratification would be helped "immensely" if the two sides expressed their intention to reduce "to even lower levels" than called for under START II. By the year 2003, both the United States and Russia are expected to retain no more than 3,500 strategic nuclear warheads. Piskunov contended a statement issued by both the Russian and American presidents pledging to seek even lower levels of strategic arms "would also help bring in other members of the nuclear club to get them to freeze and reduce the levels of their own armaments." Such an expression of intent, he suggested, would be "very timely" as the deadline approaches to extend the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) this spring. Spence said the meeting with the Russian parliamentarians had covered a number of subjects including NATO expansion, the conflicts in Bosnia and Chechnya, and a discussion of U.S. objections to Russian plans to sell civilian nuclear reactors to Iran. Russian Defense Committee member Vladimir Avercheve contended that the 1nited States plans to sell "the same kind of light (water) reactor to a country (North Korea) with at least the same level of unreliability as a partner and the same level of danger as Iran." Piskunov said members of the U.S. and Russian committees recognized that there is an existing dichotomy between trying to manage the ABM Treaty and dealing with the subject of theater ballistic missile systems. There is "nothing that guides us," he said, on the dividing line between theater and strategic defenses. Acknowledging the need to develop ways to protect populations and troops from ballistic missile attacks, the official also called for the two sides to discard "mutual suspicions." NNNN .