Russia’s Foreign Ministry, meanwhile, stepped up pressure on the Duma yesterday to move expeditiously to ratify START II. Ministry spokesman Vladimir Rakhmanin underscored to reporters the importance of START II to Russia’s security. He also described START II ratification as the springboard to a follow-up START III treaty that would cut the nuclear arsenals of the United States and Russia even further. Rakhmanin said that the next summit meeting between Yeltsin and Clinton–the scheduling of which is contingent on ratification of START II–is likely to yield “a powerful decision, probably even … a breakthrough in the nuclear disarmament field.” In additional remarks clearly aimed at Russian lawmakers, Rakhmanin also said that “we proceed from the assumption that all those who are really concerned about security of our country will do all they can for ratification of this treaty.” (Itar-Tass, May 19)
The 1993 START II treaty, which would cut U.S. and Russian arsenals by more than half–to between 3,000 and 3,500 warheads–was ratified by the U.S. Senate last year. Russia’s Duma has refused to move on the treaty, however, citing a number of concerns that include NATO enlargement and concern over U.S. observance of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. Russia’s Defense and Foreign Ministries, which strongly support START II, had seemed of late to have successfully overcome those objections. However, the recent bitter conflict between Yeltsin and the Russian parliament over the naming and approval of Prime Minister Sergei Kirienko appears to have negated much of that work, and to have put consideration of the treaty back in jeopardy.
RUSSIA AND IRAN CONSIDER MORE NUCLEAR COOPERATION.