U.S., Russia Cancel Signing of TMD 'Demarcation' Agreement

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AN OCTOBER 31 signing ceremony between Undersecretary of State Lynn Davis and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Georgi Mamedov for the already completed "first-phase" demarcation agreement pertaining to lower-velocity theater missile defense (TMD) systems was canceled at the last minute, with both the United States and Russia claiming the other was to blame. Just six days before the planned signing ceremony, Russia announced that it was not prepared to sign and allow the first-phase agreement to enter into force until a "second-phase" agreement covering higher-velocity TMD systems had been reached. The United States, opposed Russia's last minute efforts to link the agreements, called off the ceremony.

Since November 1993, the United States and Russia have attempted to negotiate through the Geneva-based Standing Consultative Commission (SCC) a "demarcation line" between TMD systems, which are permitted by the 1972 ABM Treaty, and strategic missile defense systems, which are constrained. After nearly three years of negotiations, the United States and Russia as well as the three other parties to the SCC-Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstanreached preliminary agreement on an agreed statement related to demarcation that would permit the deployment of TMD systems with interceptor velocities of up to 3 kilometers per second (see ACT, July 1996).

In addition, during the May-June 1996 session of the SCC, the five parties reached preliminary agreement on a memorandum of understanding that would allow Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan to become members of the ABM Treaty. The

United States and Russia also reached agreement on a series of confidence-building measures pertaining to lower-velocity TMD systems as well as a set of regulations for governing the multi-party SCC.

Since then, however, Russia had been reluctant to allow the first-phase demarcation agreement to be implemented until significant progress had been made on the issue of higher-velocity TMD systems. These concerns appeared to have been partially resolved on September 23, when Secretary of State Warren Christopher and Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov reaffirmed their commitment to the phase-one agreements and announced that the documents would be ready for signature by the end of October (see ACT, September 1996). …