Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 216

Although the Duma’s long-awaited action on START II will be applauded in Washington, a long list of conditions which lawmakers have apparently included in the new ratification bill could negate yesterday’s seemingly positive developments. The new draft reportedly states, for example, that Russia will withdraw unilaterally from observance of the START II treaty if the United States violates the 1972 ABM treaty. Other possible developments which might provoke a Russian withdrawal from START II include: a decision by states not party to START II to build up their strategic forces in a fashion which threatens Russia’s national security; a decision by the United States or other countries, including members of NATO, to develop their military forces in a like fashion; and a decision by NATO to deploy nuclear or high-precision weaponry in newly admitted member states.

The Duma’s START II draft bill apparently also calls for implementation of a number of state policies by which the treaty can become a reality. These conditions are aimed at maintaining the viability of Russia’s own strategic forces through proper financing and the provision of sufficient administrative, scientific and research support (Russian agencies, November 19).

Speaking to reporters yesterday during a visit to Russia, U.S. Senator Richard Lugar cautioned that amendments attached by Russian lawmakers to START II could void the treaty. He warned specifically that the clause suggesting that Moscow would withdraw from START II if NATO deployed nuclear weapons in new member states in Eastern Europe would be unacceptable to Washington. Lugar did say, however, that the Duma could–as the U.S. Senate had done–include attachments to the treaty clarifying how lawmakers feel certain treaty clauses should be interpreted (Reuters, AP November 19).

Yesterday’s developments appeared to be positive ones on the whole with regard to U.S.-Russian arms control efforts. Aside from the movement on START II, the U.S. delegation in Russia, which is led by Lugar, applauded Moscow’s efforts to dispose of its nuclear weapons and suggested that Washington should consider upping its aid to Russia for such programs. The American delegation is in the midst of a nine-day inspection of sites in Russia where missiles, missile silos, bombers and missile-firing submarines are being dismantled and destroyed. The U.S. delegation includes–in addition to Lugar–Senator Carl Levin, former U.S. Senator Sam Nunn and former Defense Secretary William Perry. Lugar and Nunn are co-founders of the program–the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction program–which has provided more than US$2 billion in aid to former Soviet states since 1991 (Washington Post, November 14; Reuters, AP, November 19).