Retired Gen. Lev Rokhlin, the influential chairman of the State Duma’s Defense Committee, has once again stated publicly that he does not believe it would be to Russia’s advantage to ratify the START II strategic nuclear arms reduction treaty in its present form. He reasons that Russia would have to spend on the order of $50 billion, first to destroy many of its intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) because they carry more than one warhead, and then to build new, single-warhead missiles to replace them. He also claimed — erroneously — that the treaty would allow the U.S. to reuse warheads removed from its excess missiles while depriving Russia of that option.
Rokhlin said that the Duma had suspended its consideration of START II while waiting for President Boris Yeltsin and the government both to explain how NATO’s expansion into Central and Eastern Europe would affect the treaty and to provide a concept for nuclear deterrence. He suggested that the treaty might be ratified once the U.S. and Russia had agreed on the terms of a follow-on START III. However, his preference would be to skip START-2 and go directly to START III. American spokesman have said that the U.S. would be willing to hold talks on further strategic cuts, but only after START II had been ratified by the Russians.
Defense Ministers’ Meeting Endorses Russian Generals for Major Posts.