House Prohibits Funds for ABM Succession

On August 5, the House approved (240-188) an amendment to the departments of Commerce, Justice, State and Judiciary appropriations bill prohibiting any funds to be used by U.S. delegates to the Standing Consultative Commission (SCC) to implement the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on ABM Treaty succession. Signed in September 1997, the MOU identifies Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine as the successor states to the former Soviet Union under the treaty. The amendment, introduced by Representative David McIntosh (R-IN), seeks to prevent implementation of the MOU before the Senate has given its advice and consent to ratification. The administration has stated that it will not submit the MOU (as well as the START II extension protocol and the ABM-TMD "demarcation" agreements) to the Senate until Russia has ratified START II. Some congressional Republicans have argued that the ABM Treaty is not currently in force pending Senate approval of the MOU.

The final language on the McIntosh amendment must still be worked out in a House-Senate conference. The administration maintains, however, that it has no plans to implement the MOU at the current session of the SCC, which began on September 9. During this session, the United States, Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine are scheduled to conduct the latest five-year review of the ABM Treaty and complete the implementing details for the September 1997 agreement on confidence-building measures (CBMs) for theater missile defense systems.