U.S. defense secretary William Perry suggested on September 21 that informal assurances by NATO that it would not station nuclear warheads on the territories of new member states could be reconsidered if Moscow does not destroy more of its own tactical nuclear weapons. Speaking to reporters on a flight from Moscow to Helsinki, Perry reiterated that "there is no interest and no plan in NATO today for either increasing the number, the quantity of [nuclear] weapons, or increasing places where they are based." But Western leaders, Perry suggested, are concerned because Moscow has moved so slowly in destroying the short-range nuclear weapons that were returned to Russia from the newly independent states following the dissolution of the Soviet Union. (Western agencies, September 21) Aside from addressing a real Western security concern, Perry’s remarks seemed designed also to turn the tables on Moscow, which has made the potential deployment of nuclear warheads on the territory of new member states a key point in its criticism of NATO expansion.
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