[lifted from the estimable Johnson's Russia List traffic]

Committee Chairman Says Duma Ready To Ratify START-2 Treaty

ITAR-TASS in English
February 8, 1997

LONDON, February 8 (Itar-Tass)

The Russian parliament is ready to ratifiy the Start-2 treaty, but after a thorough scrutiny of its implications for Russia's security, Duma defense committee chairman Lev Rolhlin told Itar-Tass today.

Rokhlin is visiting London with the parliamentary delegation to the international seminar on European security sponsored by the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

He said in an exclusive interview with Itar-Tass that statements about the Duma's freezing the ratification of Start-2 are wrong.

Duma committees had asked the government for documents which would allow the lower house of parliament to continue the work on the treaty, Rokhlin said.

He spelled that the Duma wants documents on the treaty's provisions on nuclear deterrents and economic validation of nuclear missile disposal.

"We are not going to force the ratification of any international treaties and thereby expose the country's security to danger," Rokhlin said.

As for NATO's eastward expansion plan, he said the Russia-NATO charter would appreciably improve their consensus on European security.

Russia needs to lay a basis on which to build up its relations with NATO, Rokhlin said.

"A concrete accord with the North Atlantic alliance could officially seal obligations of the sides to one another," he said.

"After the break-up of the USSR, NATO broke its promise not to act in the zone of state members of the former Warsaw Pact, and is going to start admitting new Eastern European members in spite of everything," Rokhlin continued.

"The North Atlantic alliance is again plediging its word not to deploy nuclear weapons in territories of its new members along Russian borders, but we do not see any documents or any written confirmations to these statements," he said.

"In my view, it is just the lack of the mechanism for public control of decisions of the state that had led in the past to the unforgivable errors of the former leadership of the Soviet Union and changed the balance of force in the world," he said.

Rokhlin added: "Now we have been taught by the bitter experience and do not want to make tragic errors, demadning to cement NATO's relations with the Russian Federation by a concrete agreement."