DATE=10/21/1999 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=U-S-RUSSIA ARMS (L-ONLY) NUMBER=2-255337 BYLINE=DAVID GOLLUST DATELINE=WHITE HOUSE CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: The Clinton Administration says it is not giving up its efforts to persuade Russia to agree to modify the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty despite Moscow's chilly response to U-S overtures on the issue. A new round of arms talks began Thursday in Moscow. V-O-A's David Gollust reports from the White House. TEXT: Officials here say dialogue continues on the A- B-M treaty despite Russia's seemingly adamant opposition to amendments that would accommodate a limited U-S missile defense system. Concluded in 1972, the treaty sharply restricted the testing and deployment of missile interceptors by the United States and the former Soviet Union. The idea was to insure the nuclear deterrence of both superpowers, while avoiding a costly anti-missile arms race. But U-S strategists now believe that the danger of a massive nuclear strike from Russia has been eclipsed by the threat of an accidental missile launch or a nuclear-tipped weapon fired by a so-called "rogue state" such as North Korea. And pressed by Congress, the Administration is seeking changes to the A-B-M treaty to allow a limited U-S program to go forward. President Clinton and Russian President Boris Yeltsin agreed in Cologne last June to discuss modifications. But as senior negotiators of the two sides convened in Moscow Thursday, the Russian foreign ministry was saying it isn't interested in any amendments. However, pressed by reporters, Clinton spokesman Joe Lockhart said the White House does not consider the Russian statement the last word, and that the talks continue: /// Lockhart Act /// It's a very important treaty. We also believe that due to the increasing threat of rogue states with ballistic missile that we need to move forward and to look at the feasibility of a national missile defense. We have done a lot of work on that. We will make a decision next year on deployment. And that's why, given the importance of those two things, we have to work closely with the Russians on looking at ways where we can deepen our cooperation and amending - where necessary - the treaty. /// End Act /// The administration has offered to share anti-missile technology and to help Russia complete a missile tracking facility in Siberia in exchange for supporting treaty changes, though Moscow has indicated its opposition to those ideas as well. The Moscow talks are also to cover prospects for further strategic weapons cuts under a proposed START- Three treaty. But U-S officials say those discussions are complicated by the A-B-M dispute and the Russian parliament's failure to ratify the 1993 START-Two agreement. They also admit the U-S position has not been helped by the U-S Senate's rejection earlier this month of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. (Signed) NEB/DAG/JP 21-Oct-1999 16:06 PM EDT (21-Oct-1999 2006 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .