Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 192

If it is true that Moscow has been more “cooperative” in dealing with Washington, then the Russians are indeed cloaking their negotiating positions well. On October 15 the Russian Foreign Ministry released a strongly worded report warning that U.S. efforts “to break the ABM treaty” threaten observance of the START I and START II treaties and any “real prospects for the curtailment of strategic arms.” The report also describes U.S. moves to amend the ABM accord as part and parcel of Washington’s broader efforts to create a “unipolar world”–that is, an international system dominated by the United States. The statement said that this same U.S. ambition is manifested in last week’s U.S. Senate rejection of the CTBT (Itar-Tass, October 15).

Aside from such declarations, Russia has also moved more pragmatically to whip up international opposition to U.S. efforts to amend the ABM treaty–and, by extension, to Washington’s missile defense plans. Russia, China and Belarus reportedly submitted a draft resolution on October 12 to the UN General Assembly which urges preservation and observation of the ABM accord. Moscow followed that step on October 15 with an announcement that it would work with China–presumably within the UN Security Council–to seek support at the UN against American efforts to alter the ABM treaty (Itar-Tass, October 15; New York Times, October 17).

Due to the Senate vote on the CTBT–and the widespread international condemnation it generated–the Russian ABM initiative could get a more sympathetic hearing from the world community than it might otherwise have. China, for one, supports Russia’s opposition to changes in the ABM accord–and to the related U.S. plans to proceed with missile defense–on the grounds that the latter would threaten China’s nuclear deterrent. But even some U.S. allies are said to be uncomfortable with U.S. missile defense plans. The result could be an international debate which proves embarrassing for Washington and puts U.S. diplomats on the defensive over a host of security issues.