Magazine article Arms Control Today

Putin Calls for More Nuclear Cuts, Maintenance of ABM Treaty

Magazine article Arms Control Today

Putin Calls for More Nuclear Cuts, Maintenance of ABM Treaty

Article excerpt

RUSSIAN PRESIDENT VLADIMIR Putin reiterated on November 13 his country's continuing interest in deeper nuclear reductions and preservation of the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty. In a statement released by the presidential press service, Putin repeated Russia's longstanding call for reducing U.S. and Russian strategic arsenals to 1,500 deployed warheads each by 2008, and he called for consideration of subsequent cuts below that level. Putin emphasized that such reductions should be accompanied by "retention and strengthening" of the ABM Treaty. (See p. 30.)

President Bill Clinton responded positively to Putin's remarks during a November 19 interview with CNN, declaring that while he is unwilling to "compromise [his] successor's options," he supports future reductions of both strategic delivery vehicles and warheads. A senior administration official said that Putin's statement "does not contain many new elements" but noted that "there are a few new twists that require further study..at the expert level."

Clinton also indicated his support for deployment of a national missile defense but said that "it's very hard to justify wrecking the existing treaty system" before the required technology has been adequately developed. Clinton emphasized the desirability of cooperation on missile defense with Russia and China as well as "any other country that might want to participate."

Putin's interest in deeper nuclear reductions relates to an ongoing effort to restructure Russia's military forces. Russia's faltering economy has crippled its conventional forces and has slowed the acquisition of new missiles to replace aging strategic weapons. Following an acrimonious public debate among top-level Russian officials, the Kremlin announced in August that Russia would gradually reduce its nuclear forces to 1,500 deployed strategic warheads and cut conventional forces. …

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