The `NEW YORK TIMES' in its editorial describes this act as nostalgia for the Cold War. It says the bill being pushed through by the Republican majority in the congress may frustrate the awkward attempts by the Clinton team to tailor the national security to the post-Cold War realities. To substantiate their viewpoint, the authors of the article bring forward a number of arguments. For one, they claim the bill will result in mounting pressure for raising military expenditures, spreading NATO defense guarantees to eastern Europe and reducing the United States share in the UN peacekeeping operations. Among these and other clauses of the act is a proposal to renew efforts to build what it calls an antimissile space system, better known as the Star Wars program.
The version approved last week by the House of Representatives Foreign Relations Committee underlines the need to unroll a reliable defense system capable of protecting the United States against ballistic missiles. Such an approach may bring about a serious setback, both in the Moscow-Washington relations and global security.
Pushing towards the creation of an antiballistic missile system would be an encroachment on the ABM [antiballistic missile] treaty signed by the United States and Russia in 1972 which prohibits the building of space or large-scale missile defense systems. It paved the way for agreements on the limitation and later the reduction of strategic nuclear arms. Who in the United States can be interested in halting or reverting the process of nuclear disarmament?
The question becomes even more crucial given other statements from Washington. Starting from 1993 Russian-American negotiators in Geneva have been trying to determine the concept of strategic and tactical anti-missile defense. This is a long standing problem. The point is to maintain the ABM treaty along with setting up defense systems to counter tactical missiles. With the next round of talks scheduled for March, the U.S. Administration plans to conduct tests already this month, but the aim of the tests is yet to be confirmed. Meanwhile, 22 senators, including the leader of the Republican faction in the Senate, have sent a letter to President Bill Clinton urging him to break off consultations with Russia.
At the September Vancouver summit the Russian-American sides unanimously agreed that the ABM treaty should remain viable and intact, but there have been reports over recently about unpredictable statements and decisions being made in Washington that may affect global security.