DATE=4/21/2000 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=U-S-RUSSIA-NUCLEAR (L-ONLY) NUMBER=2-261603 BYLINE=DAVID GOLLUST DATELINE=WHITE HOUSE CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: The Clinton administration is welcoming the ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, or C-T-B-T, by the lower house of the Russian parliament, the Duma, and it is expressing confidence the U-S Senate will eventually change course and approve it was well. V-O-A's David Gollust reports from the White House. TEXT: The U-S Senate's rejection of the test ban treaty last year was a major foreign policy embarrassment for the administration. And officials here are expressing hope the growing number of countries ratifying it -- including Russia -- will help prod the Senate to reconsider, though this is highly unlikely to occur before President Clinton leaves office. The Duma vote on the test ban, which came a week after its ratification of the START-Two Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with the United States, is a new victory for Russian President-elect Vladimir Putin in dealing with a parliament largely populated by defense hard-liners and former Communists. In a written statement, President Clinton congratulated Mr. Putin, Duma members and Russian citizens for what he termed "an important step toward a safer future." Mr. Clinton said approval of the test ban by Russia -- and other countries that have recently ratified including Chile, Bangladesh and Turkey -- renews momentum for the international effort to halt the spread of nuclear weapons and promote disarmament around the world. Briefing reporters here, White House spokesman Joe Lockhart made clear the administration hopes the new impetus for arms control extends to the Republican- controlled Senate, which rejected the test ban by a 51-to-48 vote last October: ///Lockhart actuality/// We look forward to working with the new Russian government on a whole series of arms control issues.Obviously it is an important step when a large country goes forward and ratifies C-T-B-T. We welcome that. We hope that as time goes on, and we are able to make our case to the Senate, that our Senate will follow the lead of many other countries around the world and ratify and important treaty. ///end act/// Under questioning, Mr. Lockhart said President Clinton's record on arms control has been "unparalleled" despite the test-ban defeat and that thousands of nuclear warheads once fielded by the major powers have been dismantled during his time in office. Arms control analysts say President-elect Putin's arms control successes in the Duma could strengthen Moscow's hand in the dispute with the Washington over U-S efforts to develop a limited national missile defense system. Russia contends the U-S project - nominally directed against missile firings by North Korea or other so- called rogue states - violates the 1972 anti-ballistic missile or A-B-M treaty. Mr. Putin has warned that if President Clinton decides later this year to deploy the system, Moscow might pull out of existing nuclear arms control agreements and end discussions on a proposed START-Three treaty. The issue is expected to be the most difficult agenda item for the Clinton-Putin summit meeting to be held in Moscow the first week of June. (Signed) NEB/DG/ENE/PT 21-Apr-2000 17:29 PM EDT (21-Apr-2000 2129 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .