Kozyrev on Russian-U.S. `Central Issues'

By ITAR-TASS correspondent Dmitriy Gorokhov
in English 0655 GMT 4 Apr 95

[FBIS Transcribed Text] Moscow April 4 TASS -- The ratification of the START-2 treaty and the preservation of the ABM treaty are the central issues of the Russian-American dialogue before the forthcoming meeting of the Russian and U.S. presidents next May, said Andrey Kozyrev, who returned to Moscow from his tour of Middle East countries on Monday [3 April].

Talking with Russian journalists on board the plane, the Russian foreign minister described as "long-term and promising" President Yeltsin's proposals to discuss at his meeting with Bill Clinton in Moscow further nuclear disarmament measures, including the signing of the START-3 Treaty. "It is very important that both we and our partners see this perspective and consider the next steps on this way," Kozyrev said. In his opinion, the development of strike space weapons, for which some "irresponsible people" are now calling in the U.S., would threaten to undermine the nuclear disarmament process. In this situation it is especially important to ratify the START-2 treaty as soon as possible and to preserve the ABM Treaty.

Nuclear disarmament is connected with the preservation of the ABM Treaty, which includes the problem of the operation anti-ballistic-missile defence, the Russian foreign minister stressed. Now Russian and American missiles are not trained on each other, he continued, and the problem of the strategic anti-ballistic-missile defence for operation purposes does not come up. Meanwhile, tactical anti- ballistic-missile defence could be a response to a real threat. Such threat does exist, because the number of countries, possessing nuclear weapons, may grow.

According to Kozyrev, in this situation the great powers, instead of competing in the creation of destabilizing global anti-ballistic- missile defence systems, should jointly develop tactical anti-ballistic-missile systems. This could become a mutually advantageous sphere of cooperation, capable of creating new jobs, as well as boosting scientific research and the use of high technologies.

In the opinion of the Russian foreign minister, the choice facing Russia and America today actually boils down to the following: one wrong step may bring us close to the resumption of the arms race, while correct decisions may pave the way to new spheres of cooperation of the two great powers. He believes such cooperation would be profitable both for Russia and its partners from the political, military-technological and economic points of view.