Clinton, Yeltsin Make Arms Control Gains Before 'G-8' Summit in Denver


Craig Cerniello

ADDRESSING A wide range of economic, global and political issues, leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) industrialized countries and Russia made modest progress on arms control during their June 20-22 summit meeting in Denver. President Bill Clinton and Russian President Boris Yeltsin also made some gains on key nuclear arms control issues in their separate bilateral meeting on June 20.

According to National Security Council Deputy Director Jim Steinberg, Clinton and Yeltsin discussed the status of ongoing efforts in the Geneva-based Standing Consultative Commission (SCC) to establish a "demarcation line" between theater missile defense (TMD) systems and strategic missile defense systems. During the March Helsinki summit, the United States and Russia reached preliminary agreement on a set of basic principles to govern the status of higher-velocity TMD systems (systems with interceptor velocities above 3 kilometers per second) under the ABM Treaty (see ACT, March 1997). The SCC met May 14-June 18 in an effort to codify the principles agreed at Helsinki in a formal "phase two" agreement on demarcation but was unable to complete its work. During their one-hour meeting in Denver, however, Clinton and Yeltsin agreed that the sides would attempt to finish the higher-velocity TMD agreement during the current session of the SCC, beginning on July 23.

In addition, the two presidents reaffirmed their commitment to the START II ratification process. The treaty, which was approved by the Senate in January 1996, has not yet been ratified by Russia. According to Steinberg, Yeltsin said in Denver that he was "determined to give [START II] a real push with the Duma," but it remains unclear at this writing whether the Duma will act on the treaty this year.


Summit of the Eight

At the conclusion of the so-called "Summit of the Eight," the G7 countries and Russia issued an 18-page final communique outlining their agreement on a broad range of arms control issues. In addition to their support for the "early" entry into force of START II and "initiation" of START III negotiations, the eight leaders reaffirmed their "unwavering commitment" to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty as well as their commitment to the "immediate commencement and early conclusion" of a global fissile material cutoff treaty. They also called upon all states to "rapidly" sign and ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty "to ensure its early entry into force," and encouraged India and Pakistan—nuclear-capable states that have not signed—to adhere to its provisions.

The eight leaders also agreed to expand participation in their "Program for Preventing and Combating Illicit Trafficking in Nuclear Material"—adopted in April 1996 at the Moscow nuclear safety and security summit—to include countries in Central and Eastern Europe, Central Asia and the Caucasus. In a separate progress report of the foreign ministers, issued on June 21, the eight states also called for enhanced cooperation and information-sharing among their law enforcement, intelligence and customs agencies in an effort to further reduce the nuclear smuggling threat.