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Statement of Russian President Putin On Strategic Reductions And Preservation of the ABM Treaty

In a November 13 statement released by the presidential press service, Russian President Vladimir Putin stated that Moscow is ready for "radical progress" on nuclear disarmament and called for the "retention and strengthening" of the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty.

Putin said that the United States and Russia should cut their deployed strategic arsenals to 1,500 warheads each by 2008, arguing that such reductions could be based on the legal framework developed for the START I and II agreements and would therefore not require protracted negotiations. Putin also suggested consideration of subsequent reductions below the 1,500 warhead level. Although he indicated a willingness to continue what he termed ongoing "ABM talks," Putin emphasized that Russia continues to oppose modification of the ABM Treaty.

Putin suggested that "political and diplomatic means" and "legal mechanisms" were a less destabilizing substitute for current U.S. national missile defense plans. Finally, Putin proposed "wide ranging cooperation" on theater missile defenses and suggested that the Joint Data Exchange Center being established in Moscow by the United States and Russia to share early-warning information on missile launches could serve as "a component of such cooperation."

 

At the juncture of two millennia the world has reached a crucial frontier in the matter of nuclear disarmament, the nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the ensuring of strategic stability. Over the recent period there have been indisputable achievements here: exceptionally responsible decisions were adopted by the participants of the NPT Review Conference, an informative dialogue on disarmament issues took place at the Millennium Summit in New York, and the First Committee of the General Assembly of the United Nations endorsed a number of important resolutions. Russia also has made its contribution, having ratified the Treaty on the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (START-2), the package of the New York 1997 understandings with respect to antimissile defense, and the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. In the international community there has taken shape a consensus that there should be no pause in nuclear disarmament, and that the disarmament process should be intensified. Radical progress in this direction is really called for.

Russia is ready for this.

We see no grounds that would hinder further deep reductions in strategic offensive arms. As is known, we have suggested to the U.S., including at the highest level, that the attainment of radically decreased levels of our countries' nuclear arsenals—down to 1,500 warheads for each country—should be set as an objective, which can quite feasibly be reached by the year 2008. But neither is this the limit—we are ready subsequently to consider even lower levels. We agree with the view being expressed in the United States that for the achievement of this agreement it will not be necessary to conduct protracted negotiations and to start it all from scratch—we have accumulated considerable experience, and there are juridical mechanisms under START-1 and START-2. We hope that the Senate of the United States will follow the example of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation and complete the ratification of the START-2 Treaty and the ABM-related understandings. But the main thing now is for Russia and the U.S. to start without delay moving together or in parallel towards radically reduced ceilings on nuclear warheads.

That goal should be achieved in conditions of the preservation and strengthening of the 1972 ABM Treaty. We are told that the situation in the world has changed significantly in the past three decades as new missile threats have arisen which allegedly require corresponding changes in the ABM Treaty. The situation has indeed changed, but not to such an extent as to warrant breaking the existing system of strategic stability by emasculating the ABM Treaty. Measures to counteract the spread of missiles and missile technologies can be taken without going beyond the framework of the ABM Treaty and acting primarily by political and diplomatic methods. A vivid example is the intensive dialogue between the U.S. and the DPRK on the problems of missiles. Ways to improve the political and legal mechanisms of missile non-proliferation are being actively discussed in multilateral format, work is underway to develop a new code of conduct in this field and to create a Global System of Missile and Missile Technology Control.

For the countries which raise the question of a military-technical "safety net" we offer broad cooperation in the sphere of theater missile defense that fits into the ABM Treaty. The technological developments for that already exist. The Moscow Center on Missile Launch Data Exchange now being created by Russia and the U.S. which must in future be open for all the interested countries could provide an element of such cooperation. We have already invited European and other representatives to join this work. I hope that the new U.S. leadership will not object to the such use of the Center in the interests of strengthening regional and global stability.

Russia is ready, without a pause, to continue the dialogue with the U.S. on the issues of the ABM over which we differ, a dialogue started more than a year ago. The obligation to consider all the issues affecting the ABM Treaty is contained in the Treaty itself. Accordingly, we are open to the continuation of such a discussion within the Permanent Advisory Commission, a negotiating forum which has been functioning successfully under the Treaty since 1973, and if necessary, agree on upgrading the level of representation of the parties in the Commission.

The implementation of a pragmatic and long-overdue program in the field of real nuclear disarmament proposed by Russia will make it possible to really strengthen strategic stability and international security on the threshold of the new 21st century.

The Kremlin, Moscow, November 13, 2000