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."