RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 4, No. 221, Part I, 14 November 2000

YAKOVLEV PROPOSES ABM INDEX... Commander of the Strategic
Rocket Forces Vladimir Yakovlev told reporters in Moscow on
13 November that it would "be very difficult" to persuade the
U.S. not to violate the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.
As a counterbalance to Washington's plans to deploy a limited
national defense system, Yakovlev proposed the introduction
of "an unchanging general index of strategic weapons that
would include anti-missile defense means as well as means of
nuclear attack," according to Interfax. He went on to explain
that "a country that wishes to increase one of the components
will have to cut the other," adding that Russia could equate
its land-based nuclear forces with U.S. submarine-based
missiles. JC

While Yakovlev's comments suggested a softening of Moscow's
stance that the ABM treaty must be preserved in its current
form, Russian President Vladimir Putin made remarks
indicating this may not be the case. In a statement released
by the presidential office on 13 November, Putin proposed
more radical cuts in the Russian and U.S. nuclear arsenals
(see next item), but only on condition that the ABM treaty is
"preserved and strengthened." "We are told that the situation
has significantly changed in the last three decades, that new
missile threats have emerged and corresponding amendments to
the ABM Treaty are required. Of course, the situation has
changed, but not to such an extent that the system of
strategic stability that has formed by now be ruined by
emasculating the ABM Treaty," the statement read. An
unidentified "well-placed U.S. official" told Reuters that
the administration "takes with a pinch of salt" Yakovlev's
comments on an ABM index, noting that they are odds with
earlier comments by Putin and that Washington's "inclination"
would be to give more weight to the president's words than
the general's. JC

ARSENALS. Putin's 13 November statement says that Russia is
prepared to propose even more radical cuts in its and the
U.S.'s nuclear arsenals than it earlier suggested--provided
the ABM treaty is preserved. Putin noted that Moscow has
already proposed reducing the number of warheads to 1,500
each by 2008 but added that this is "not a limit." He did not
give any precise numbers for even more radical reductions. In
April the Russian State Duma finally ratified the START II
treaty, which provides for roughly halving the two countries'
nuclear arsenals to 3,500 each. Under START III, whose
details are to be negotiated once START II goes into effect,
the number of each side's warheads would be reduced to 2,000-
2,500. START II has not yet taken effect because the Duma
added conditions that have still to be ratified by the U.S.
Senate. JC

Copyright (c) 2000. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free
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