DATE=5/23/2000 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=SENATE / NUKES (L-O) NUMBER=2-262714 BYLINE=JIM RANDLE DATELINE=PENTAGON CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: Top U-S military officers say they favor further cuts in the U-S nuclear arsenal -- but warn the President and Congress not to go too far. V-O- A's Jim Randle reports, the comments from the Joint Chiefs of Staff come as the Presidents of Russia and the United States are preparing for summit talks expected to focus on nuclear disarmament. TEXT: The top uniformed officers of all the U-S services say they support plans to cut the U-S and Russian nuclear arsenals until each side has about two-thousand or 25-hundred deployed strategic warheads. Currently, Washington and Moscow have more than double that number, but they are nearing the final stages of a complex treaty process called START-TWO. The treaty will cut the number warheads to about 35-hundred per side. The next step in nuclear disarmament is a proposed START-Three treaty that would make even deeper cuts. The negotiating framework for that treaty was outlined in 1997 during talks in Helsinki between President Clinton and former President Boris Yeltsin. The Navy's top officer, Chief of Naval Operations Jay Johnson, says he does not like a Russian suggestion for even deeper cuts, perhaps to 15-hundred strategic warheads. /// Johnson act /// I am quite comfortable with the Helsinki framework, as described this morning. I am quite uncomfortable going outside the Helsinki framework without the requisite analysis on a subject of such major strategic importance. /// end act /// Other officers told a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing (Tuesday) that cuts deeper than the agreed framework could have an unpredictable impact on deterrence (the promise that a nuclear attack on the United States will bring a devastating and overwhelming response). The Chiefs of the Armed Services say deeper cuts could force the scrapping of some U-S bombers or submarines that are also needed for conventional war. They worry that might leave fewer spares for weapons and delivery systems in a time of crisis. Under the U-S Constitution, the U-S Senate must consent to treaties signed by the President. Richard Mies, head of the U-S Strategic Command told Senators not to be `hasty' in taking `taking irreversible steps,' because he said nuclear weapons helped `keep the Cold War cold.' (Signed) 23-May-2000 16:23 PM EDT (23-May-2000 2023 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .