NUCLEAR-FREE ZONE A PRELUDE TO NATO COMPROMISE?
Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 77
Expanding on a proposal briefly alluded to earlier by Boris Yeltsin, a Russian presidential advisor has called for the establishment of a nuclear weapons-free zone in Central and Eastern Europe and hinted that its creation could ease Moscow’s opposition to NATO enlargement. The timing of his remarks suggested that Boris Yeltsin would introduce the issue in discussions with G-7 leaders over the weekend. Yeltsin’s security advisor, Yuri Baturin, raised the proposal yesterday in remarks before reporters. He said that the nuclear free zone "could be quite vast, including Belarus, Ukraine, and East and Central Europe as well." Of equal import, he added, was that "many policies would be seen in a different light if such a zone were created… NATO would look quite different, don’t you agree?" Atomic Energy Minister Viktor Mikhailov also reportedly referred to the idea. (UPI, April 18)
During a speech to the Russian Security Council April 10, Yeltsin announced that Russia would complete the withdrawal this year of all former Soviet nuclear weapons onto Russian territory. He followed the announcement with the remark that "it is in the interests of the G-8 nations to assure that all nuclear weapons of all nuclear states be concentrated on their own territory." (Reuter, April 10) Although it remains to be seen whether Baturin’s follow-up remarks reflect Moscow’s intention to offer a concrete proposal, they do address one of the Kremlin’s primary concerns on the issue of NATO enlargement, namely, the potential deployment of tactical nuclear weapons near Russia’s borders.
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