September 26, 1997


Waldorf-Astoria Hotel

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Distinguished Foreign Ministers and colleagues, heads of delegation and friends, this ceremony marks a turning point in our approach to nuclear weapons. We have been very successful in mastering the challenges left in the wake of the Cold War. Now we will turn to arms control for a new century -- beyond eliminating mistrust to eliminating actual nuclear weapons.

These documents are the product of nearly four years of hard work, and the leadership, above all, of President Clinton and President Yeltsin.

I want to pay particular tribute to Vice President Gore's work through the Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission in reaching these agreements, and in laying the groundwork for major reductions in the years ahead. This past week, he was the man on the spot in Moscow -- and he succeeded in jump-starting the agreements we are signing today.

The ABM Treaty was essential to managing our security during the Cold War, and is at the center of our strategic relationship with Russia today. These documents ensure that its list of participants correspond to the maps of our times, and that our understanding of it corresponds to the security strategy we are putting in place for times to come.

Together, the ABM and START II documents we will sign here today should pave the way for the Russian Duma to ratify START II. And that will trigger deep reductions in our arsenals.

But these agreements also open new possibilities for Americans and Russians to work together toward the goal Presidents Clinton and Yeltsin adopted in Helsinki -- cutting our arms levels and, consequently, our expenditures and risks, to levels 80 percent below Cold War peaks.

They open new opportunities to destroy actual warheads and to put in place transparency measures that will assure us that weapons taken out of service will never be used again. These negotiations can begin once Russia ratifies START II.

I salute our delegation to the Standing Consultative Commission, led by Commissioner Stan Riveles, for its unrelenting efforts. And I thank the representatives from Russia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine and Belarus who did so much to make this day possible.