DATE=4/26/2000 TYPE=U-S OPINION ROUNDUP TITLE=RUSSIA'S AFFIRMATION OF ARMS CONTROL NUMBER=6-11792 BYLINE=ERIKA EVANS DATELINE=WASHINGTON EDITOR=ASSIGNMENTS TELEPHONE=619-2702 CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: Russia's new President, Vladimir Putin, won his first major legislative victory this month by getting both chambers of parliament to approve the START-Two treaty with the United States. Under the treaty, both nations' nuclear arsenals will be cut roughly in half. But while Russia's ratification of the agreement was a big victory for Mr. Putin, it may cause some trouble for the United States. Today, U-S editorial writers are discussing what could potentially hold the START-Two agreement back. For a sampling of various points of view in American press, we turn to _________________ in today's U-S Opinion Roundup. TEXT: Russia's ratification of the nuclear arms treaty, known as START-Two (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty-Two) is welcome news to Washington. There are however, some problems. As part of START-Three discussions the United States wants Russia's agreement to amend the 1972 Anti- Ballistic Missile Treaty, which prohibits the development of defense systems aimed at repelling missile attacks. The Clinton Administration is seeking to renegotiate the terms of the A-B-M treaty so as to allow for a limited missile defense against nuclear attacks against rogue nations, such as North Korea. Mr. Putin has warned that Russia would not implement, and might even withdraw from, all arms-control pacts with the United States if Washington goes ahead with missile defenses. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in Pennsylvania says that since U-S Senate rejected a comprehensive test ban treaty last year, it will be a serious challenge for President Clinton to get the lawmakers to approve provisions in START-Two that would limit missile defense. VOICE: President Clinton now must convince the Russian government that it is in both nuclear powers' interest to amend the A-B-M treaty to allow for such limited defense. In doing so he will be walking a tightrope. He must convince President Putin that America's defense system will not be designed to shield this country from an all-out nuclear attack from Russia, and thus will not jeopardize the perversely stabilizing Cold War doctrine of "mutually assured destruction". ...Mr. Clinton, who will visit Moscow in June, should do his best to convince the Russians that their security would not be threatened by a modest A-B-M system directed against rogue nations. If he fails in that mission, the United States may be left with a painful choice between the stability of the current arms- control framework and the promise afforded by a unilateral pursuit of an anti-ballistic system. TEXT: That was the opinion of the Pittsburgh Post- Gazette. The Chicago Tribune says Russia can now claim to be a leader in arms control and point its finger at the United States for trying to destabilize a bedrock agreement of mutual deterrence. VOICE: This is an unwelcome change in global relations. Until last October, the U-S could rightly argue it was doing all it could to lead the movement to control the proliferation of nuclear weapons around the world, and that Russia was the obstinate player. Last October though, the U-S Senate rejected the test ban treaty. Now Russia has agreed to it. That puts Russia in the company of Britain and France -- also among the five early nuclear powers - which have signed and ratified the C-T-B-T (Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty). And it lumps the U-S with the only other early nuclear power that has not - China. ...Though it may argue as such, this is not exactly a case of Russia acting out of nobility. Russia has significant economic as well as strategic reasons for moving on these long-stalled arms treaties. It cannot afford to maintain its existing nuclear arsenal, and any reduction in warheads helps free up scarce resources for other military needs. Regardless of motives, Russia has taken the lead and put the U-S on the defensive - and that's not a comfortable position for this nation. TEXT: So says the Chicago Tribune. The Washington Times warns that in an effort to strengthen the security of the United States and Russia, President Clinton must not deal away the country's missile defense. VOICE: Desperately seeking a foreign-policy legacy, Bill Clinton has cast his eyes on the big-stakes game of nuclear arms control. Notwithstanding all the failures that mark that legacy to date, the potential for fiasco has never been greater. ...In a world inhabited by virulently anti- American rogue states certain to join both the nuclear and the intercontinental ballistic missile clubs in the foreseeable future, America's supreme interests are indisputably jeopardized. Mr. Clinton's "bargain" is to obtain permission from Mr. Putin to let the United States deploy a vastly inferior, extremely limited A-B-M system. In exchange, the U-S would unwisely agree to eviscerate reductions in its submarine-launched warheads, which are already scheduled to be reduced by 50- percent under START-Two. It would be a lose- lose deal for America, which doesn't need Mr. Putin's permission to protect itself. TEXT: And lastly, The Providence Journal in Rhode Island offers its opinion. It says President Clinton is in a strong position and should not let it go to waste. VOICE: The (Clinton) administration might be tempted to resolve the potential impasse by accepting Mr. Putin's conditions, because Mr. Clinton, who has yet to sign any major arms-control agreements with Moscow, seems desperate about creating a "legacy". But Mr. Clinton's dreams of a personal legacy are nowhere near as important as the realities of his nation's security. He must keep those priorities straight. Despite all the propagandistic initiatives Russia is likely to engage in, Mr. Clinton is in the driver's seat. He should speak softly; there's no need to humiliate Mr. Putin specifically or Russia generally. But neither is there any reason to give in to threats. TEXT: With that view from The Providence Journal, we conclude this sampling of press reaction to Russia's position on nuclear arms control and the American government's response. NEB/ENE/gm 26-Apr-2000 17:36 PM EDT (26-Apr-2000 2136 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .