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Nuclear News - 01/04/99
RANSAC Nuclear News, 4 January, 1999

  • Russia Rules out Deploying Nuclear Weapons in Belarus, Agence FrancePresse (12/30/98)
  • Duma Suggests to Suspend "Uranium Contract" Signed with US.,Itar-Tass (12/30/98)
  • Russian minister seeks quick ratification for START II, AgenceFrance Presse (1/1/99)
  • Iraq brings troubled U.S.-Russia ties to fore, Reuters (1/1/99)


    Russia Rules out Deploying Nuclear Weapons in Belarus
    Agence France Presse
    December 30, 1998
    (for personal use only)

    MOSCOW-- Russia has ruled out deploying nuclear weapons in Belarus ifthe two former Soviet states forge ahead withplans to reunite, a Russian minister said Tuesday.

    "The decision that Russia will be the sole CIS nuclear power will not bequestioned by anyone," said Igor Savolski, a deputy minister tasked withtheCommonwealth of Independent States (CIS), a group of ex-Soviet states.

    But both would cooperate militarily in line with a declaration signedFridayby presidents Boris Yeltsin of Russia and Aleksander Lukashenko ofBelaruscalling for a unified Slavic state to be formed in 1999, he said.

    The deal will not lead to the isolation of Russia and Belarus from theotherCIS states, the minister said. "We are going to work together for futureintegration in the CIS framework," he said.

    When the Soviet Union collapsed at the end of 1991, Belarus, Ukraine andKazakhstan became nuclear powers as atomic weapons had been deployedthere bythe Soviet armed forces.

    Under international pressure, the three new republics renounced atomicweaponsin return for financial compensation and the last Soviet nuclearmissilesdeployed in Belarus were withdrawn on Nov. 23, 1996.

    A U.S. official quoted by Itar-Tass said Washington did not object totheintegration of former Soviet republics provided it is voluntary,mutuallyadvantageous, and does not exclude integration with larger bodies.
    Duma Suggests to Suspend "Uranium Contract" Signed with US.
    Itar-Tass
    December 30, 1998
    (for personal use only)

    MOSCOW-- On instructions issued by DumaSpeaker Gennady Seleznyov the Duma has turned over a draft project "Onappeal to President Yeltsin in connection with an agreement on the useof highlyenriched uranium obtained from nuclear weapons" signed by the Russianand USgovernments on February 18, 1993 to Duma factions and committees forapproval.

    The document was initiated by Duma MP Alexander Filatov from the LDPfaction. Talking to journalists, Filatov said on Wednesday that thepresident wassuggested to suspend the agreement in connection with the fact that theUS hadunilaterally breached one of the clauses of the agreement and stoppedpaymentsfor the so-called "natural component" necessary to dilute highlyenricheduranium.

    Filatov believes that similar agreements pertaining to Russia's topinterests shall be submitted to the State Duma for ratification.
    Russian minister seeks quick ratification for START II
    Agence France Presse
    January 1, 1999
    (for personal use only)

    MOSCOW-- First Deputy Prime Minster Yury Maslyukov vowed Thursdayhe would undertake "active efforts" to persuade the Russian parliamenttoratify the START II nuclear disarmament treaty and begin work on a STARTIIIin late January or early February.

    "A rapid ratification of START II and a no less rapid implementation ofSTART III would considerably strengthen strategic stability," Maslyukovwas quoted as saying by his spokesman, Anton Surikov.

    The minister, Russia's economics chief, oversees the country's lucrativearmaments sector. The State Duma had been due this month to begin itsfirst debate of the pivotal treaty slashing the nuclear arsenals of Russia andthe United States. The US Congress approved START II in 1996 and bothWashington and the Kremlin have been pressing the Communist- and nationalist-ledDuma to follow suit. But Duma deputies became outraged by recent US-ledstrikes against Iraq and voted during a council session on December 22 not todebate the issue before the end of the year.

    START II sees cuts in US warheads to 3,500 and in Russia's stock to3,000while also forcing the Kremlin to eliminate its heavy multiple-warheadintercontinental missile.

    Maslyukov said that Russia needs the treaty no less than the UnitedStates,adding that ratifying the treaty would open the way for talks on a STARTIII.But nationalist lawmakers argue ratification of the treaty puts Russiain anuclear disadvantage compared to the United States and favor approval ofanew, more balanced START III version.

    In his statement, Maslyukov said that START III should containprovisionsthat would prevent the reinstallation of decommissioned nuclear warheadson carrier vehicles. The Communist cabinet member added that it wasessential to observe the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Misslie Treaty while work continueson both START accords. Progress on the two START treaties would "completely conform to the principle of strengthening the national security of the Russian Federation with minimum expenditure," Maslyukov said.
    Iraq brings troubled U.S.-Russia ties to fore
    Carol Giacomo
    Reuters
    January 1, 1999
    (for personal use only)

    WASHINGTON-- U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright wasalmost exuberant when she announced in December plans for a trip toMoscowthat would launch, after much delay, U.S.-Russia talks on deeper cuts inlong-range nuclear arms. Then, a week later, the United States unleashed a four-day aerialbombardment of Iraq, fanning new tensions with Russia, one of Baghdad'skey traditionaldefenders.

    As a result, U.S. officials say the arms negotiations are again on holdandMoscow has cancelled a major military exercise with NATO set for nextJune. These officials assert that the political fallout over Iraq -- whichincludedRussia's brief recall of its ambassador from Washington -- was not asbad asthey feared.

    Even as Russian leaders erupted publicly in outrage over the bombings,Moscow privately told Washington it did not want to do irreparable harmto bilateral ties, officials say.

    One sign is that Albright's trip to Russia will go forward, on Jan25-27.Another is last Wednesday's telephone call between President BillClinton andRussian President Boris Yeltsin. In fact, Moscow cannot allow relations with the United States tocompletelydeteriorate, even if its political leaders were inclined to do so.Russia'seconomy is in disastrous shape and Moscow is dependent on western loansandother assistance.

    Nevertheless, experts view the Iraq episode as more proof of anincreasinglytroubled relationship between the world's remaining superpower, theUnitedStates, and the unravelling vestige, Russia, of its one-time adversary,theSoviet Union.

    ``Certainly things are significantly worse at the end of the year thantheywere at the beginning,'' Professor Angela Stent of Georgetown Universitysaidin assessing U.S.-Russia ties. She added: ``If you look at the upcoming year, it is hard to see avenueswhere we could revitalise the relationship, unless the Russiangovernment itself is prepared to go further in the area of economicreform.''

    Iraq brings into sharp relief all of Russia's massive and worseningeconomic, political and military weaknesses. Despite long-time close ties to Iraq, and Prime Minister YevgenyPrimakov'spersonal friendship with Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, Moscow was unabletopersuade Baghdad to comply with U.N. weapons inspections that would haveobviated air strikes.

    Nor was Moscow able to persuade the western allies to forgo the strikesoreven bring this issue to the U.N. Security Council, the majorinternationaldecision-making table where Russia has a vote -- and a veto.

    U.S. officials, who insist the Russians understood well in advance thatmilitary action would result if Iraq did not comply with U.N. weaponsinspections, say Washington has worked hard to help preserve the ``figleaf''of Moscow's now-shredded ``co-equal status'' in world affairs.

    ``We have an interest in doing that but not when it cuts across our ownsenseof national security,'' one official said.

    There is no question the Clinton administration, once a huge booster,has sobered on the post-Cold War Russia as an ailing Yeltsin disengagedfrom governing and the country shifted significantly from reform. In a November speech, Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott gavedramatic public vent to this view. He slammed Moscow's retreat fromfree-marketeconomics and warned bluntly that financial decline could lead to``political drift, turmoil and even crackup'' in the world's secondnuclear power.

    He also warned that help from the U.S.-dominated International MonetaryFund would be on hold until Russia made the hard structural adjustmentsneeded for recovery and growth.

    In a recent analysis, James Duran, a Russian history professor atCanisius College, rendered an even bleaker view.

    He accused Yeltsin, after seven years in power, of failing to establisheconomic or political stability in Russia. This has ``profoundimplications'' for U.S. security policy, he said. During a continuing 10-year recession, Russia's gross domestic producthas fallen to levels about equal to that of Germany or Japan by the endof World War II, he said.

    Russia's parliament last week passed an austere 1999 draft budget, keyto new IMF aid and restructuring the foreign debt. U.S. officials say, however, the draft budget is ``only a start'' andeven tougher changes must be made. Economic reform will be a main focusof Albright's trip to Moscow.

    Primakov's new conservative government ``is a coalition in a transitionperiod heading toward the elections'' and there are several ways it cango, one U.S. official told Reuters.

    ``It can take the country backward, it can tread water and muddlethrough or it can use the relatively high degree of national consensus,in the short run, to push through some hard things'' and Albright willencourage option three, he said.

    In Moscow, Albright will discuss Iraq and other regional issues; renewU.S. pressure for Russia to halt nuclear and missile cooperation withIran; renew U.S. concerns about anti-Semitism in Russia and discuss newnegotiations to adapt the 1990 Conventional Forces in Europe treaty,officials said.

    But launching Start-3 strategic arms reduction treaty talks, heroriginal goal, will not be on the agenda. The United States insistsRussia's Duma first ratify the Start-2 treaty, signed in 1993. The Duma was expected to finish Start-2 in December but delayed actionafter the U.S. attack on Iraq. The issue is now on the calendar forspring, when U.S. officials hope the climate will be more favourable forlegislative approval.



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