USIS Washington 

13 October 1998


(May help pave way for START II ratification by Duma) (470)

By Wendy Lubetkin

USIA European Correspondent

Geneva -- Completion of a final set of agreements related to the
Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty may help pave the way for START
(Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) II ratification by Russia's
parliament the Duma, according to a U.S. official.

"We are doing everything we can to try to pave the way for the Duma to
act," said the U.S. official who spoke on condition of anonymity. "The
Duma has made it clear that they wanted these ABM Treaty agreements in
place, so we feel we have accomplished what we set out to do to
facilitate the Duma's action on START II."

The agreements, signed by representatives of the United States, the
Russian Federation, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine on October 13 in
Geneva, fill out the final implementation details of accords signed in
New York in September last year.

Specifically, the October 13 agreements build on the September 26,
1997 Agreement on Confidence Building Measures (CBMA) which provides
for an exchange of technical data and notifications on certain theater
ballistic missile defense systems. The CMBA is part of a set of
ABM-Treaty related agreements which are intended to preserve the
treaty's viability in the post-Cold War era.

The CMBA and the other September 1997 agreements, which will
facilitate effective theater missile defenses and multilateralize the
AMB Treaty, will not take effect until they are ratified by all five
parties. The Geneva agreements will enable their full implementation
as soon as they are ratified, the U.S. official said.

The United States hopes that the finalization of the ABM Treaty
related agreements will accelerate the ratification process for the
START II Treaty.

Signed in January 1993, but not yet ratified, the START II Treaty
would reduce the number of nuclear warheads deployed by each side to
between 3,000 and 3,500. START III, which would further reduce the
number of warheads on each side to between 2,000 and 2,500, depends on
bringing START II into force.

The official explained that the United States assumes the Russian
Federation will approve START II and the ABM Treaty related agreements
at the same time.

The policy of the Clinton administration "is that once the Duma has
ratified these agreements, then we will submit these agreements to the
Senate," he said.

"We understood that the Duma wanted us to get the ABM issues squared
away before they were willing to act on START II. And now we have done
that," the official said. "We believe that everything has been
accomplished. It is now in their hands."