News

Voice of America 3/27/97

U-S / RUSSIA MISSILES

BYLINE=DAVID SWAN
DATELINE=CAPITOL HILL
CONTENT=
VOICED AT:

INTRO: THE UNITED STATES AND RUSSIA HAVE UNVEILED A WIDE-RANGING SERIES OF ARMS CONTROL AGREEMENTS, WHICH COULD MEAN NEW CUTBACKS IN THE TWO NATIONS' MASSIVE COLD-WAR NUCLEAR STOCKPILES. LIKE ALL SUCH ACCORDS, THESE ARE FACING POLITICAL ROADBLOCKS AND AN UNCERTAIN FUTURE. V-O-A'S DAVID SWAN HAS DETAILS.

TEXT: MORE THAN FOUR YEARS HAVE PASSED SINCE THE NUCLEAR SUPERPOWERS SIGNED THEIR LAST MAJOR ARMS-REDUCTION PACT -- AND THAT AGREEMENT, THE START-TWO TREATY, HAS LANGUISHED IN THE RUSSIAN DUMA SINCE. AT THE HELSINKI SUMMIT (LAST WEEK), PRESIDENTS CLINTON AND YELTSIN TRIED TO REVIVE THE PROCESS BY ANNOUNCING WHAT MR. CLINTON CALLS DRAMATIC NEW PROPOSALS.

/// CLINTON ACT ///

THIS MEANS THAT WITHIN A DECADE WE WILL HAVE REDUCED BOTH SIDES' STRATEGIC NUCLEAR ARSENALS BY 80-PERCENT BELOW THEIR COLD WAR PEAK OF JUST FIVE-YEARS AGO.

/// END ACT ///

THE PLAN HAS SEVERAL PARTS, ALL DESIGNED TO PUSH START-TWO THROUGH THE DUMA AND CLEAR THE WAY FOR TALKS ON A FOLLOW-ON ACCORD, START-THREE. THIS NEXT GENERATION TREATY WOULD LEAVE EACH SIDE NO MORE THAN 25-HUNDRED LONG-RANGE WARHEADS, OR ABOUT ONE-THOUSAND FEWER THAN ALLOWED BY ITS PREDECESSOR (START-TWO). THE HELSINKI AGREEMENT WOULD ALSO GIVE THE FINANCIALLY STRAPPED RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT EXTRA TIME TO DISMANTLE ITS WEAPONS.

PERHAPS THE MOST SURPRISING DEVELOPMENT INVOLVES MISSILE DEFENSE AND THE 1972 ANTI-BALLISTIC MISSILE TREATY, WHICH WERE THE SOURCE OF A STUBBORN DISPUTE. THE SIDES HAVE CLEARLY SPELLED OUT THE REGIONAL, OR SHORT-RANGE, MISSILE DEFENSES THE A-B-M PACT ALLOWS, AS OPPOSED TO THE LONG-RANGE SYSTEMS IT BANS. MR. CLINTON SAYS THIS SHOULD PRESERVE THE TREATY, WHICH IS WIDELY CONSIDERED THE CORNERSTONE OF ARMS CONTROL.

// CLINTON ACT //

I DO SUPPORT THE A-B-M TREATY. I THINK ITS IMPORTANT. I BELIEVE IN IT. AND WE HAVE I BELIEVE STRENGTHENED THE CHANCES THE A-B-M TREATY WILL SURVIVE BY THE AGREEMENT WE HAVE MADE TODAY.

// END ACT //

THE PLAN IS MEANT TO ADDRESS RUSSIAN CONCERNS THE UNITED STATES IS SEEKING AN UNFAIR ADVANTAGE. U-S OFFICIALS SAY IT STILL ALLOWS THE PENTAGON TO MOVE AHEAD WITH SIX NEW TACTICAL ANTI-MISSILE WEAPONS, LIKE THOSE IT DEPLOYED AGAINST IRAQI "SCUDS" IN THE PERSIAN GULF WAR.

BUT WHILE IT MAY EASE FEARS IN THE DUMA, THE AGREEMENT HAS ALREADY STIRRED UP CONSERVATIVE CRITICISM IN WASHINGTON. HOUSE SPEAKER NEWT GINGRICH AND OTHER REPUBLICAN LEADERS CHARGE IT WOULD PLACE UNACCEPTABLE, POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS LIMITS ON U-S TECHNOLOGY. RETIRED GENERAL MILLER ROBERTS, OF THE PRO-MISSILE DEFENSE GROUP "HIGH FRONTIER" ARGUES THE A-B-M TREATY HAS OUTLIVED ITS USEFULNESS.

// ROBERTS ACT //

ALL IT DOES IS PREVENT US FROM DEFENDING THE CONTINENT, THE UNITED STATES MAIN TERRITORY, AGAINST INTERCONTINENTAL MISSILES, WHETHER FIRED BY ACCIDENT OR A ROGUE GROUP OF DISGRUNTLED PEOPLE. GIVEN THE POLITICAL SITUATION IN RUSSIA TODAY YOU CAN NOT RULE OUT ANYTHING.

// END ACT //

GENERAL ROBERTS AND OTHER CRITICS CHARGE THE HELSINKI AGREEMENT WOULD KEEP THE UNITED STATES FROM PURSUING THE MOST PROMISING MISSILE DEFENSE IDEAS. MR. CLINTON DID PLEDGE NOT TO DEPLOY ANY SPACE- BASED ANTI-MISSILE ROCKETS OR LASER BEAMS, LIKE THOSE ENVISIONED BY PRESIDENT REAGAN'S ORIGINAL "STAR WARS" PROGRAM. BUT JACK MENDELSOHN OF THE PRIVATE ARMS CONTROL ASSOCIATION SAYS THE COUNTRY IS LOSING NOTHING BY FORSWEARING THESE WEAPONS.

// MENDELSOHN ACT //

WE HAVE NO PLANS TO DO THAT, THERE IS NO TECHNOLOGY TO DO THAT, THERE IS NO NEED TO DO THAT AND IT COSTS TENS-OF-BILLIONS OF DOLLARS. AND ITS UNECESSARY FOR ANY OF THE THREATS WE CAN FORESEE FOR THE NEXT GENERATION OR BEYOND.

// END ACT //

THE PRESIDENT AND CONGRESS HAVE CLASHED REPEATEDLY OVER MISSILE DEFENSE IN THE PAST FEW YEARS. THE ADMINISTRATION FOUGHT OFF REPUBLICAN PLANS WHICH THE WHITE HOUSE BELIEVED WOULD THREATEN THE A-B-M TREATY AND HURT RELATIONS WITH RUSSIA. BUT THE FATE OF THE NEW INITIATIVE IS NOW IN LAWMAKERS HANDS, AS MR. CLINTON ACKNOWLEDGED IN HIS JOINT PRESS CONFERENCE WITH MR. YELTSIN (LAST FRIDAY).

// YELTSIN-CLINTON ACT //

(YELTSIN) -- AS FAR AS RUSSIA IS CONCERNED, I EXPECT THAT THE STATE DUMA WILL MAKE A DECISION BASED ON MY ADVICE. (CLINTON) -- BOY, I WISH I COULD GIVE THAT ANSWER.

// END ACT //

(SIGNED)

NEB/DS/RAE

27-Mar-97 12:04 PM EST (1704 UTC)
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