Clinton to Submit ABM Amendments' to the Senate

President Bill Clinton has agreed to seek Senate approval of any agreement that would add new parties to the 1972 ABM Treaty, originally a bilateral accord between the Soviet Union and the United States. A condition attached to the resolution of ratification of the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty "Flank Document," unanimously approved by the Senate on May 14, requires Senate advice and consent for a 1996 agreement that would formalize the succession of Russia, Belarus, Kazakstan and Ukraine to the ABM Treaty, if and when such an agreement is signed.

Signature of the June 1996 memorandum of understanding (MOU) on ABM succession, however, is awaiting completion of separate agreements, currently being negotiated by the United States and Russia, that would establish a "demarcation line" between permitted theater missile defense systems and restricted strategic ABM systems.

The administration had previously agreed to submit the demarcation agreements to the Senate for its advice and consent, but it resisted seeking Senate approval of the MOU because it held that the question of succession did not constitute a "substantive modification" to the ABM Treaty and fell within the president's purview under the Constitution and international law. Nevertheless, in a May 14 letter to the Senate, President Clinton agreed to submit the agreement to the Senate "without prejudice to the legal principles involved."