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Bush Announces Nuclear Cuts With Russia

Monday, 13 May 2002 12:00 AM

"When I sign the treaty with President Putin in Russia, it will begin a new era of U.S.-Russian relationships," Bush told reporters gathered for the signing of a farm bill.

"The new era will be a period of enhanced mutual security, economic security, and improved relations. The treaty will liquidate the legacy of the Cold War."

Although both sides said the treaty would be ready for the two leaders meeting in Moscow on May 24, the president's announcement Monday was a surprise.

A senior administration official said the two countries each had about 6,000 warheads and had been making unilateral reductions of nuclear weapons even as the treaty negotiations were going on.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said he was "satisfied with the joint work" by Russian and U.S. diplomats that produced the treaty. He lauded Bush. "Without the interested, active position of the American administration and the attention of President Bush, it would have been difficult to reach such agreements."

President Bush said during his campaign that he sought a major reduction of nuclear arms and wanted to avoid the long and involved negotiations that had accompanied earlier agreements. The treaty he will sign in Moscow was negotiated for seven months and will be three pages long, according to the senior official.

Both sides seemed to have made concessions. Originally Bush had said he wanted to reach an agreement without a formal treaty. The Russians wanted a formal document. The document Bush will sign in Moscow is a treaty and must be ratified by two-thirds of the Democrat-run Senate.

The Russians wanted the arms destroyed, but the United States appeared to have prevailed. The senior administration official said that though some weapons would be dismantled, others would be put in "deep storage" or kept "as operational spares."

"Under this treaty, the United States will retain the flexibility we require for an uncertain security environment in the future," the briefer said. He later explained that the uncertainty, underscored in the Defense Department's recent Nuclear Posture Review, was not based on concern about Russia, but an assessment of the world's difficulties.

Over the weekend, the New York Times reported that the Bush administration had briefed members of Congress on intelligence that indicated Russia might be considering resuming nuclear testing.

The briefer neither confirmed nor denied the report, but said nuclear testing was hard to detect and because the Russians had signed an agreement not to test, the administration presumed they were abiding by it. He said President Bush did not intend to resume testing.

Though the treaty is to be only three pages, the two sides are working on additional agreements. One is for enhanced cooperation on several fronts including missile defense. The United States withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty earlier this year and said it was developing a missile defense system. This side agreement might work out ways in which the two countries could cooperate.

The negotiators are also working on a plan to create a joint "implementation agreement," which "will be to provide the transparency in what each side is doing, so that each is confident that the reductions in fact are occurring over time," the briefer said.

Under the terms of the arms control treaty announced Monday, each side can determine the composition of its strategic forces. The treaty will not list particular weapons, such as missiles or submarines, that should be taken out of operational service.

Copyright 2002 by United Press International.

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When I sign the treaty with President Putin in Russia, it will begin a new era of U.S.-Russian relationships, Bush told reporters gathered for the signing of a farm bill. The new era will be a period of enhanced mutual security, economic security, and improved...
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2002-00-13
Monday, 13 May 2002 12:00 AM
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