In an historic step, President Clinton and President Yeltsin today issued a Joint Statement on Parameters on Future Reductions in Nuclear Forces, reaffirming their shared commitment to further reduce the nuclear danger and strengthen strategic stability and nuclear security.

President Clinton has led the effort to reduce the threat posed by nuclear weapons to all Americans. Today's statement builds on a record of unprecedented progress during the President's first term in curbing the proliferation of all weapons of mass destruction and the missiles that deliver them, and in reducing the dangerous legacy of Cold War weapons' stockpiles. Over the past four years, the administration has reached agreement with Russia to detarget U.S. and Russian missiles, so that no Russian missiles are pointed at American cities; secured the entry into force of the START I Treaty and the complete denuclearization of Belarus, Kazakstan and Ukraine; secured the indefinite extension of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty; and signed the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.

In today's Joint Statement, Presidents Clinton and Yeltsin underscored the importance of prompt ratification of the START II Treaty by the State Duma of the Russian Federation and reached an understanding to begin negotiations on START III immediately once START II enters into force.

The Presidents also reached an understanding that START III will establish by December 31, 2007 a ceiling of 2,000-2,500 strategic nuclear weapons for each of the parties, representing a 30-45 percent reduction in the number of total deployed strategic warheads permitted under START II and more than a 65 percent reduction in the number of total deployed strategic warheads permitted under START I.

In an important new development promoting the irreversibility of deep reductions, the Presidents agreed that START III will be the first strategic arms control agreement to include measures relating to the transparency of strategic nuclear warhead inventories and the destruction of strategic nuclear warheads. The Presidents also agreed the sides will consider the issues related to transparency in nuclear materials.

In response to Russian concerns over the dismantlements costs of bombers, missile silos and submarines, the Presidents agreed to extend the START II deadline for eliminations to December 31, 2007 subject to the approval of the Russian Duma and United States Senate. To reduce the extension of the period during which nuclear forces are above START II levels, all systems scheduled for elimination under START II will be deactivated by removing their nuclear warheads or taking other jointly agreed steps by December 31, 2003. The United States is providing Nunn-Lugar assistance to facilitate early deactivation and the elimination of strategic offensive arms in Russia. Through fiscal year 1996, that assistance has totaled $230 million. An additional $60 million is planned for this fiscal year.

To further underscore that the United States and Russia are committed to a permanent reduction in the nuclear threat, the Presidents also agreed to the goal of making the current START Treaties unlimited in duration.

In addition, the Presidents agreed to explore possible measures relating to long-range nuclear sea-launched cruise missiles and tactical nuclear systems. These discussions will take place separate from, but in the context of, the START III negotiations.

These steps will allow President Clinton, working together with President Yeltsin, to build on the important progress already achieved and shape a world that is safer and more secure for Americans, Russians and all peoples.