|SLUG: 5-47387 Russia / U-S Arms||DATE:||NOTE NUMBER:|
TITLE=RUSSIA / U-S ARMS
INTRO: Russian President Vladimir Putin held talks with U-S President Clinton earlier today (Wednesday) on the sidelines of the APEC summit in Brunei. Arms control and disarmament were among the issues they discussed. The talks in Brunei came just two days after the Russian leader launched new disarmament proposals, that some say are designed to set the tone for negotiations with the next U-S Administration. V-O-A's Sonja Pace in Moscow takes a look at Mr. Putin's proposals and some of the reasons behind the initiative.
TEXT: Moscow is eager to press ahead with drastic arms reductions, and has launched a diplomatic offensive to make its views known. Only two days before meeting with Asian and Pacific leaders in Brunei, Russian President Vladimir Putin released a new initiative calling for radical cuts in nuclear weapons.
Yuri Kapralov is Director of the Department for Security and Disarmament at the Foreign Ministry in Moscow. He told V-O-A that Russia is sending a signal to whatever new U-S administration takes office, that arms control and disarmament should be a high priority.
/// ACT KAPRALOV ///
It is important because it is related to - it goes to the heart of - security of both Russia and the rest of the world, certainly all, (and) the United States as a partner in the process of reduction of strategic offensive weapons.
/// END ACT ///
President Putin has called for a joint reduction in nuclear stockpiles to 15-hundred warheads each for the United States and Russia by the year 2008 - well below cuts already agreed to. And, he said, Russia is ready to discuss even further cuts below that level.
Independent military analyst Pavel Felgenhauer says Mr. Putin's proposals are based on economic necessity and are part of his overall plan to reduce and restructure the Russian military. He says Mr. Putin is looking to Washington for help.
/// ACT FELGENHAUER ///
Just last week, the Russian Security Council approved cuts in Russia's armed services as part of a reform plan. The real cuts will happen in the strategic rocket forces. The money that's going to be saved on scrapping the old rockets and not producing many new rockets to replace them, it's planned to use that money to boost conventional military capabilities of the Russian army. It's very important right now for Putin that these inevitable cuts in the Russian nuclear arsenal would not be seen as unilateral. It's especially important in the domestic political scene. He (Putin) wants assurances from Washington that Washington is going to also cut back.
/// END ACT ///
Russia remains adamantly opposed to plans by the United States to develop a national missile defense system. Russian officials say Moscow will respond if Washington insists on moving ahead with plans to develop such a system.
/// OPT /// Analyst Felgenhauer says warnings of a Russian response are not new.
///ACT FELGENHAUER/// /// OPT ACT ///
We have devised, beginning from the (19)80's, different kinds of gadgets that should fool and make ineffective any missile defense shield. That includes, say, deploying dummy warheads on the newest Russian inter-continental ballistic missile, the D-S-S-27. It was specifically designed to carry maybe tens-of-dummy warheads. So, basically we are talking about that.
///END ACT/// /// END OPT ///
President Putin's initiative for arms reductions go well beyond any of the existing proposals. Under the START Two treaty, Washington and Moscow agreed to cut their nuclear arsenals to about 35-hundred warheads each. That treaty was ratified by the Russian parliament earlier this year, but has not been ratified by the U-S Senate. And so far, there has been virtually no movement on plans to negotiate further reductions under a START Three treaty, which would limit nuclear arsenals to about two-thousand to 25-hundred warheads each.
In his recent proposal, Mr. Putin indicated that Russia and the United States could negotiate more drastic reductions, perhaps even through informal agreements, bypassing the lengthy and cumbersome process of treaty ratification.