Putin's Arms Control Proposal

Text of President Putin's Nuclear Arms Reduction Proposal

Moscow, 13th November, ITAR-TASS: The following is the full text of a statement by Russian President Vladimir Putin, as conveyed to ITAR-TASS by his press service.

At the intersection of two millennia, the world stands at an important moment for nuclear disarmament, nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction and preservation of strategic stability. Without doubt, there have been recent achievements: exceptionally important decisions have been taken at the review conference on implementation of the Treaty on Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons, a substantial dialogue on disarmament took place at the Millennium Summit in New York and a number of significant resolutions have been approved at the First Committee of the UN General Assembly.

Russia has contributed to this process by ratifying the Treaty on Further Strategic Arms Reductions (START-2), a package of accords on antimissile defence reached in New York in 1997 and the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. The consensus in the international community is that there should no pause in nuclear disarmament and that the disarmament process should be intensified. Radical progress in required in this field. Russia is ready for it. We see nothing in the way of further deep reductions to strategic offensive weapons.

It is known that we have suggested to the USA, including at the very highest level, that our countries aim for radically reduced levels of nuclear weapons of 1,500 each, which is entirely achievable by 2008. But that is not the limit - we are willing to subsequently consider further cutbacks. We agree with an opinion also being voiced in the USA, that such an agreement will not require protracted talks or a fresh beginning - we have a substantial amount of experience and we have the treaty and legal mechanisms from START-1 and START-2. We hope that the US Senate will follow the example set by the Federal Assembly
of the Russian Federation and complete ratification of START-2 and antimissile accords. But most importantly now, Russia and the USA should start to smoothly move forward jointly or in parallel towards radically lower ceilings for nuclear warheads.

This goal should be achieved along with the retention and strengthening of the ABM Treaty of 1972. We are told that in the past three decades the situation in the world has changed significantly - there are now new missile threats and therefore the ABM Treaty needs adjustment. The situation has indeed changed, but not so much as to wreck the existing system for strategic stability by emasculating ABM. Action can be taken against proliferation of missiles and missile technology, especially through political and diplomatic means, without stepping beyond the bounds of the ABM Treaty. The intensive dialogue on missiles between the USA and DPRK is a clear example of this. Ways of enhancing political and legal mechanisms for nonproliferation are being actively discussed in a multilateral format and work is in hand on a new code of conduct in this sphere and the creation of a Global Missile and Missile Technology Control System [GCS].

For those countries that raise the issue of a military and technological "safety net", we again propose wide-ranging cooperation in antimissile defences for theatres of military operation. The technical procedures for this already exist. The Moscow centre for data exchange on missile launches, now being established by Russia and the USA, could become a component of such cooperation and should in future be open to all interested countries. We have already invited Europeans and others to join in this work. I hope that the new administration in the USA will not object to the centre's use for strengthening regional and global stability.

That aside, Russia is willing to continue without interruption the ABM talks that were begun with the USA more than
a year ago and in which there are disagreements between us. The obligation to examine all issues affecting the ABM Treaty was written into the treaty itself in 1972. Accordingly, we are willing to continue discussions at the Standing Consultative Commission negotiating forum, which has been functioning successfully since 1973, and to agree if necessary to raise the level at which the sides are represented. Implementation of Russia's pragmatic and timely programme for real nuclear disarmament will make it possible in practice to strengthen strategic stability and international security on the threshold of the new, third, millennium.

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