[EXCERPTS] DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
BRIEFER: NICHOLAS BURNS WEDNESDAY, MAY 14, 1997
Q: Can we go back to the Russian statement? Two questions come to
mind, at least. The first is, the delay -- if you want to call it a
delay -- of the Russian parliament to act on the treaty was supposed
to be based in part on concerns by the Russian military.
BURNS: On START II.
Q: On START II.
Q: Concerns on the part of the military that they don't have the
resources to build weapons that they're allowed, while they dismantle
weapons that would put them over the caps. If the defense minister is
in favor of it, is the U.S. saying now that there is no Russian
military objection and that there's further reason now for the
parliament to go on? And I don't understand -- I don't want to follow
your words that closely -- but how can the Secretary tell the Russian
defense minister, then, when START II is ratified, the two sides can
move ahead with START III, when we've been told by the Vice President
and other senior U.S. officials that talks, at least on guidelines for
START III, needn't wait and aren't waiting for ratification of START
BURNS: First, Barry, you remember at Helsinki, President Yeltsin said
publicly, very clearly on behalf of the Russian Government that the
Russian Government wants to have the Duma ratify START II. No question
about that. Minister Rodionov was asked at the Pentagon yesterday
whether he personally supported START II, and he said, yes, he did. He
supports START II ratification. So that's the answer to number one.
The Russian Government's on record. But we can't move forward,
obviously, to implement START II until it's ratified by the Duma.
Q: You figure he's speaking for the military, not just for the
BURNS: He --
Q: He's speaking for the armed forces.
BURNS: Well, first of all, President Yeltsin spoke for the Russian
Government, and Minister Rodionov fully backed up President Yeltsin
yesterday in his public comments, speaking for the Russian Ministry of
Defense and the uniformed military.
On the second question, it's long been our position that while we are
open to some preliminary discussion of START III, we're not going to
be able to negotiate, begin negotiations on START III until START II
is ratified by the Duma. I think the President, Vice President and
Secretary Albright have all spoken to that.
Q: All right, well, we don't have to belabor it.
BURNS: There's no contradiction.
Q: It's a government decision, it's your government's decision. I
mean, starting on START III is supposed to make it easier to get START
II ratified because it would be further cutbacks and the Russian
military and industries won't have the problem finding money for
weapons that they wouldn't be able to have anyhow. So why wouldn't you
want to move ahead with START III? But all right, that's your
decision. But you don't begin to negotiate III until START II is
ratified, except for some preliminary discussions.
BURNS: We're not going to negotiate START III until START II is
ratified by the Duma. That makes common sense. Our negotiating partner
has to fill its responsibility to move ahead with START II before we
can realistically go on to START III. But we hope that the prospect of
further reductions in nuclear warheads between the two countries will
entice the Duma to think seriously about a START II ratification vote
The Secretary met this morning with the Russian defense minister,
Defense Minister Rodionov. They had an excellent meeting. They
discussed the news from Moscow today, that there has been a
breakthrough on the NATO-Russia negotiations. President Clinton's
going to speak to that in about 45 minutes, over at the Rose Garden.
They also discussed START II. The Secretary told him that she hoped
very much that the Russian Government would continue to push the
Russian Duma for ratification of START II. That would allow us to
consider negotiations on a START III agreement that would further
lower the level of nuclear weapons between both countries. They
discussed our military cooperation in Bosnia, which is going quite
well. They also discussed our ongoing military-to-military training
and exchange programs, which have really broken new ground in our
relationship over the last four or five years.