OMRI Daily Digest - Russia Vol. 3, No. 17, 24 January 1997
1997. All Rights Reserved

Russian parliamentary deputies on 23 January reacted guardedly to reports that Washington is ready to propose rapidly opening talks on START III in order to facilitate ratification of START II, Western agencies reported. Duma International Affairs Committe Chairman Vladimir Lukin said START III is a good idea, "if we can go ahead without ratification of START II." Communist Deputy Aleksei Podberezkin also supported a START III agreement, but linked it with "America fulfilling different conditions," a possible reference to NATO enlargement. Pentagon spokesman Kevin Bacon confirmed the same day that Washington will propose opening talks on a START III agreement reducing each country's strategic arsenal far below the 3,500 warhead ceiling set by START II. Such an agreement could address some Russian concerns over the cost of implementing START II, but Bacon emphasized that Washington will still insist on ratification of START II before opening new talks. -- Scott Parrish