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Nuclear News - (04/28/00)
RANSAC Nuclear News, 28 April 2000

A. Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU) Deal

    1. Plutonium At The Summit, Matthew Bunn, Christian ScienceMonitor (04/26/00)
B. Russian Nuclear Forces
    1. Russia Will Use Nuclear Weapons If Necessary, Says TopMilitary Commander, Interfax, (04/25/00)
    1. START-III Consultations Bumpy, RFE/RL (04/26/00)
    2. U.S. Says Russians May Want a Deal on Missile Defense,Jane Perlez, New York Times (04/26/00)
    3. Cohen Decries Russia's Tying Start II Ratification to NMD,Susan Ellis, USIA (04/27/00)
    4. Helms Vows To Obstruct Arms Pacts Any New Clinton Accord WithRussia Ruled Out, Helen Dewar and John Lancaster, Washington Post(04/27/00)
D. U.S. – Russia General
    1. Dangerous Summit, William Safire, New York Times(04/27/00)
    2. Bush Debates Foreign Policy With Russian, Alison Mitchell,New York Times (04/27/00)
    3. Russian Missile Roulette, Washington Times (04/28/00)

A. Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU) Deal

Plutonium At The Summit
        Matthew Bunn
        Christian Science Monitor
        April 26, 2000
        (for personal use only)

By muscling the START II arms pact through the Russian legislature,President Vladimir Putin showed his support for US-Russian cooperationon nuclear security and set the stage for a June summit.

 President Clinton should use this opportunity to seek agreementon bold new steps to prevent theft of nuclear-bomb material.

The hard part of making a nuclear bomb is getting the plutonium or highlyenriched uranium (HEU). The entire global structure for preventing thespread of nuclear weapons is built around controlling these materials.But in the former Soviet Union, these materials are being stolen. As recentlyas 1998, conspirators at one of Russia's largest nuclear-weapons facilitiestried to steal 40 pounds of weapons-usable material - enough for a nuclearbomb. A nuclear-security system designed for a single state with a closedsociety, closed borders, and well-paid nuclear workers has been splinteredamong multiple states with open societies, open borders, unpaid nuclearworkers, and rampant corruption.

US-Russian efforts to address this threat to international securityare making significant headway. At a funding level of $500 million - lessthan a quarter of 1 percent of the US defense budget - they represent someof the most cost-effective investments in US security and deserve strongsupport. But the pace of progress doesn't match the scope and urgency ofthe threat. After six years of effort, security for less than a sixth ofthe material in the former Soviet Union has been fully upgraded, and lessthan a tenth of the Russian HEU stockpile has been blended to forms thatcannot be used in weapons.

Now is the time to put dramatic new steps on the table. Putin seemsready. He has emphasized the critical threats that terrorism and nuclearproliferation pose to Russia, and called for new steps to eliminate "excess"nuclear weapons and improve the safety of Russia's nuclear complex. Acomprehensiveplan for addressing this security hazard is urgently needed, focused onsix key steps:

  1. Radically accelerate security and accounting improvements, upgrading securityfor all the plutonium and HEU in the former Soviet Union within a fewyears.
  2. Pay Russia to blend down all of its excess HEU within a few years, permanentlyeliminating an enormous security hazard.
  3. Finance the needed program to get rid of Russia's huge excess-plutoniumstockpile.
  4. Boost efforts to help Russia shrink its nuclear-weapons complex and re-employexcess weapons experts - in return for Russian agreement to measurablesteps to reduce the complex's threat to the US.
  5. Finance dismantlement of thousands of Russian warheads, with monitoringto confirm it is taking place (without revealing classified information)- and with substantial US dismantlement as well, under identical monitoringmeasures.
  6. Create new revenue streams for nuclear security, through projects suchas commercial spent-fuel storage, a "debt-for-security swap," and relaxingtrade restraints on Russia's legitimate nuclear exports, with a substantialportion of the proceeds targeted for auditable financing of nuclear-securityefforts.
Such a strategy would cost the US $1.5 billion a year for several years– a small pricefor a dramatically reduced US security threat. There's supportin Congress for a well-thought-out, carefully coordinated plan to dealwith this security threat. To succeed - and to gain support on CapitolHill - the effort needs to be led by a full-time senior official withpresidentialaccess.

Clinton should seek a summit agreementto pursue such a bold newnuclear-securityagenda, committing to work with Congress and his successor to make surethe US holds up its end of the bargain. The cost of action now is tinycompared with the costs of failing to seize this opportunity.

*Matthew Bunn, a former White House adviser on nuclear proliferation,is assistant director of the Science, Technology, and Public Policy Programat Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. This article is adapted fromhis new report 'The Next Wave: Urgently Needed New Steps to Control Warheadsand Nuclear Material' (Harvard and the Carnegie Endowment).
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B. Russian Nuclear Forces

Russia Will Use Nuclear Weapons If Necessary, Says Top MilitaryCommander
        April 25, 2000
        (for personal use only)

Moscow, 25th April: Russia's "nuclear umbrella" will protect its allies,Col-Gen Valeriy Manilov, first deputy chief of the Russian General Staff,told a Tuesday news conference at the Interfax main office.

Manilov did not rule out the possibility of Russia's being the firstto use nuclear weapons. "We abandoned the non-use of nuclear weapons in1993. Guided by the principle of transparence, we say that we would useour entire potential, including nuclear weapons, in the case of nuclearaggression or conventional aggression that we cannot stop by other means.We say this in no uncertain terms," Manilov said.

Russia will so act if its allies fall victim to aggression, he added.

Russia's new military doctrine essentially sets out that nuclear armswill not be used if there is no aggression, Manilov said. In effect, nucleararms are an instrument for forestalling aggression, he said.

If the West had not criticized it, the new Russian military doctrinewould have been regarded as unsatisfactory because it "clearly sets outthe main priority: the realization and protection of Russia's nationalinterests", Manilov pointed out.

Russia does not view any country as a potential aggressor, he noted."The reverse is true: we regard all countries as potential partners inupholding security and stability in the world. We propose to assure peaceand stability through partnership, which is equal cooperation and neighbourlyrelations," he said.
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START-III Consultations Bumpy
        April 26, 2000
        (for personal use only)

Unidentified Russian diplomatic sources told Interfax on 25 April thatU.S. and Russian officials expressed significant disagreements duringconsultationsheld last week on START-III inGeneva. Russia insisted not only on a moredrastic reduction in the number of both sides' nuclear warheads but alsothat a provision be included in the treaty requiring a reduction ofsubmarine-basedcruise missiles and limiting the U.S. anti-submarine activity in areasneighboring Russian territorial waters. At the same time, the U.S. expressedits desire to re-equip submarine-based ballistic missiles so that theyturn into non-nuclear weapons, while retaining the right to restore theircapability to bear nuclear warheads, which Russia opposes. "Itogi" (no.16) reported that some experts believe that if START-III is not concluded"by 2007, when the last Russian heavy missiles are removed from activeservice, the U.S.'s numerical superiority in warheads will turn into aquantitative advantage."
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U.S. Says Russians May Want a Deal on Missile Defense
        Jane Perlez
        New York Times
        April 26, 2000
        (for personal use only)

WASHINGTON, April 26 -- After a second round of intensive meetings withthe Russian foreign minister about the missile defense system that theUnited States wants to develop over Russian objections, senior administrationofficials said today that they had detected a readiness by Moscow to exploreall avenues of a possible resolution to the looming standoff.

But they acknowledged that Foreign Minister Igor S. Ivanov and the chiefRussian arms control negotiator, Georgi Memedev, had revealed no significantshift in their opposition to the missile defense plan. "The Russians haveshown a willingness to intensify the process," a senior administrationofficial said. "But we're not seeing a huge shift."

Trying to show that the United States was standing firm on its position,the State Department said there was a three-prong approach it describedas the "three D's."

There would be no "deferral" of the missile defense issue, and no"destruction"of the Antiballistic Missile Treaty of 1972, which limited both Washington'sand Moscow's ability to deploy defenses against missiles, the departmentsaid. And it said there would be no "decoupling" from Start III, whichwould cut the number of nuclear warheads in each country's arsenal.

Senator Jesse Helms and other leading conservative Republicans believethat the ABM treaty is an antiquated relic of the cold war and should bescrapped, thus allowing a more robust missile defense than the one theadministration is proposing.

And George W. Bush, the Republicans' presumptive presidential nominee,who met with Mr. Ivanov today, has said that he would oppose any Clintondeal with the Russians that limited the ability of a new president to makehis own agreement with Moscow. He has also said that if Russia did notmake suitable changes in the treaty, it should be scrapped.

Earlier in the day, Senator Helms, Republican of North Carolina andchairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, had seemed to suggestthat talks with the Russians be suspended during the Clinton administration'sfinal months.

He said his committee would be willing to consider amendments to theABM Treaty but only after the departure of Mr. Clinton. The senator deridedthe president for wanting a "final photo-op" with Russians before leavingthe White House.

The mission of Mr. Ivanov, who was on the second day of a three-dayvisit, appeared to be to gauge the political situation in the United Statesbefore President Clinton meets with the Russian leader, Vladimir V. Putin,in Moscow in early June. Mr. Ivanov also met today for 90 minutes with20 Republican and Democratic senators on Capitol Hill.

At the heart of the differences between the Clinton administration andMoscow is the development of a limited missile defense that the administrationsays is necessary to defend the United States against "rogue" states likeNorth Korea and Iran.

National missile defense systems are prohibited in the 1972 ABM treaty,which is based on the principle that the only way to encourage reductionsin strategic arms is to restrict ways to counter them. But the administrationsays it is seeking only a modest change to the treaty.

As they fight the missile defense plan, the Russians are urging Washingtonto agree to deep cuts in long-range nuclear arms as part of a Start IIIaccord.

Administration officials said they believed the Russians were judgingwhether they have to make a decision now and deal with Mr. Clinton or whetherthey could wait for the next administration. Because Mr. Clinton wouldlike an arms control treaty, the administration is trying to persuade theRussians that they are better off to take a deal that they know than onethey do not. As one administration official said, "The big sell is: 'Takea sure bet now. Don't take a risk in the future.'"

In the meetings today between Mr. Ivanov and the administration, theRussians offered two counterproposals, administration officials said.

The first, dealing with curbing the spread of nuclear weapons, involvedexpanding the current Missile Technology Control Regime, an internationalaccord that limits the range of missiles a country can deploy. The secondproposal involved working with the United States to cooperate on theatermissile defense systems allowed under the ABM Treaty. Theater systems canspot incoming missiles early in their trajectory and target them high inthe atmosphere.

In response, the State Department said the administration was "interestedin and intrigued by" the fact that the proposals showed that Russia understoodnew threats posed by nations like North Korea and Iran.

But the administration also went out of its way to state that therewas, according to James P. Rubin, the State Department spokesman, "no chanceof deferral" of its plans for the national missile defense.

"Clearly the Russians would like to avoid this issue," Mr. Rubin saidat the State Department today. But Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright,who met with Mr. Ivanov today and yesterday, was "making clear that deferralis not an option," he said.

Mr. Rubin said the administration's view of what is best for the UnitedStates "is to have a treaty that allows us to reduce our strategic forceswith the Russians, get deeper cuts than we have now, reduce the nucleardanger that way."

At the same time, Mr. Rubin said, the United States wants to "allowa limited national missile defense that would allow us to defend againsta small number of North Korean or Iranian missile warheads."

Mr. Ivanov said in a speech to the National Press Club that theadministrationwould be making a "fatal mistake" if it went ahead with the missile defense.He urged the White House not to hurry on the issue.

Using a quotation from an F. Scott Fitzgerald short story, "The Swimmers,"he said that America had been described as "the willingness of heart."He added: "There is every ground to apply his words to Russia."

Administration officials said it was unlikely that an agreement involvinga complicated package of support -- from the Russians, from NATO alliesand from Congress -- would be ready by the summit meeting in Moscow. "That'snot on," one senior official said.

While President Clinton has set a deadline of this summer to decidewhether to deploy an anti-missile system, administration officials havesaid that the deadline could slip into the fall if additional time is neededto analyze information from a final test of the system in late June.

Mr. Ivanov fielded questions from senators this afternoon. Much of thefocus was on the war in Chechnya and the brutal way that Moscow was fighting.In response, Mr. Ivanov asked for help in fighting terrorism, Congressionalaides said.

At the Pentagon, Mr. Ivanov, accompanied by Dr. Albright, was takento a secure conference room known as the "tank." He met with Deputy Secretaryof Defense Walter B. Slocombe and other officials.

In New York on Tuesday, the first day of Mr. Ivanov's visit, Dr. Albrighttook him to dinner at the French restaurant Lespinasse, dropping plansto take him to the Palm, a hangout of lobbyists.
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Cohen Decries Russia's Tying Start II Ratification to NMD
        Susan Ellis
        April 27, 2000
        (for personal use only)

Washington -- Defense Secretary Cohen told a Senate AppropriationssubcommitteeApril 26 that, although he commends Russian President Vladimir Putin for"getting the Duma to ratify" START II (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty),he believes that tying ratification to "no deployment for national missiledefense (NMD) is simply unacceptable.

"They should ratify START II based on the agreement, period," the Clintonadministration official said.

Cohen said the United States will negotiate with the Russians to see"whether or not we can amend the ABM treaty to take into account a nationalmissile defense system, if the president should choose to go forward."

He advised the senators, whenever they travel to Moscow, "to try toarrange to meet your counterparts. It's very important that you talk tothem and you talk very straight with them. I always try to meet with Dumamembers and to lay out our strategy and what our goals are."

Cohen said President Clinton's decision on whether to deploy NMD thissummer will be based solely on whether considerations set out have beenmet.

The first such consideration, he said, is whether there is a crediblethreat to U.S. national security. The defense secretary he believes thethreat is real and will increase.

Other tests include technological capability and costs and, he said,"the next question is, what is the impact upon our arms reductions andstability in the world, in terms of strategic systems? Those four teststhe president is going to apply."

After the tests, set for late June or early July, there will be abouta 30-day period in which Cohen will examine the results and then make arecommendation to the president. "But it will be separate and distinctfrom Russia's ratification of START II," Cohen said. "And I would not havethe Duma be in a position to tie the two together. We have to look at whatthe threat is to our country. We have to look in terms of the countriesthat are most critical of NMD, that also have participated in spreadingthat technology to some degree.
"We will look at what our national security interests are and thensee whether this system, as contemplated, is designed to defeat a threatfrom a rogue nation. But I can't tell you that now; I'll be in a positionthis summer to make a recommendation to the president," Cohen said.

Asked by Senator Richard Shelby (Republican, Alabama) about the timeframefor removing remaining U.S. troops in the Balkans, Cohen declined to name"a fixed period" adding, "I can tell you there has been great progress.. .We have seen our forces come from 20,000 in number down to roughly 4,300or so. In Kosovo, we have seen a rather significant change on the groundfrom last year, when we were in the middle of waging an air campaign...Butit's going to take some time."

Shelby asked Cohen whether, given the drawdown in U.S. forces, it isstill U.S. policy to "maintain a military capable of fighting and winningtwo major-theater wars almost simultaneously."

"The answer to that is 'yes'," Cohen said, qualifying that by addingthat there would be much higher risk "on the second MTW (major theaterwar) than is desirable."

Asked whether the two theater war policy might be reviewed, Cohen saidit is always under review and subject to the Quadrennial Defense Reviewcoming up in the next administration. "We feel that we still need to maintainthat capability for the foreseeable future, because we still have at leasttwo major-theater war potentials that we have to address, namely the Gulfregion and also in the Korean peninsula." he said.
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Helms Vows To Obstruct Arms Pacts Any New Clinton Accord With RussiaRuled Out
        Helen Dewar and John Lancaster
        Washington Post
        April 27, 2000
        (for personal use only)

In a defiant warning just six weeks before President Clinton leavesfor a summit in Moscow, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman JesseHelms (R-N.C.) vowed yesterday to block approval of any arms agreementthat Clinton might negotiate with Russia during his final months in office.

"This administration's time for grand treaty initiatives is at an end,"Helms said in a speech on the Senate floor, adding that he wanted no partof a "final photo op" to help burnish Clinton's legacy in the internationalarena.

Although Helms has long harbored deep reservations about arms controlagreements, his speech went beyond previous statements from Senate GOPleaders opposing deals that could limit U.S. options for a national missiledefense. Helms explicitly ruled out any kind of new arms accord Clintonmight negotiate.

His comments underscored the vehemence of Republican conservatives'opposition to new arms limitations, gave Clinton a shaky send-off for Moscowand offered a preview of the political furor that Clinton would find backhome if he cuts any new arms deals when he meets with Russian PresidentVladimir Putin June 4-5.

The upcoming summit will focus on U.S. proposals to amend the 1972Anti-BallisticMissile Treaty to allow the United States to build a limited system ofnational missile defense, beginning with 100 interceptor missiles basedin Alaska to shoot down a small number of incoming warheads. Helms andother congressional Republicans want to scrap the treaty entirely becausethey fear the Clinton administration will promise to keep the U.S. missiledefense system small and not to deploy interceptors in space or on shipsas part of a more ambitious--and costly--shield.

Clinton administration officials have indicated that at the summit theymay offer the Russians a "grand bargain," in which the United States wouldagree to deep cuts that Russia is seeking in both sides' nuclear arsenalsin return for Russian agreement to amend the ABM Treaty.

In his speech yesterday, Helms was especially adamant on the missiledefense issue, vowing to thwart any agreement to alter the ABM Treaty.

"Not on my watch, Mr. President, not on my watch," declared Helms, whohas clashed repeatedly with the administration over foreign policy andplayed a key role in blocking approval of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treatylast year. "Let's be clear to avoid any misunderstandings down the line,"he added. "Any modified ABM Treaty negotiated by this administration willbe DOA, dead on arrival, at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee."

Helms also made it clear he would use his considerable powers as chairmanof the committee with jurisdiction over treaties to block other arms pactsas well until a new president is inaugurated in January.

"For the remainder of this year, the Foreign Relations Committee willcontinue its routine work. We will consider tax treaties, extradition treatiesand other already negotiated treaties," he said. "But we will not considerany new, last-minute arms control measures that this administration negotiatesin its final, closing months in office."

Moreover, he said, the committee will not consider any such treatiesbinding on the new administration that will be elected in November. "TheRussian government should not be under any illusion whatsoever that anycommitments made by this lame-duck administration will be binding on thenext administration," he said.

Despite Helms's opposition, the Clinton administration said it wouldcontinue to press for new agreements and consult with senators on how toproceed.

"There's nothing new about Senator Helms's view that he doesn't wantto see the Senate approve anything that could strengthen the ABM Treaty,"said State Department spokesman James P. Rubin. And the department will"consult with the Senate about the best way to proceed," he added. "SenatorHelms is not the entire Senate."

Helms's speech came a day after Clinton met with Russian Foreign MinisterIgor Ivanov in hopes of persuading Russian leaders to agree to changesin the ABM Treaty that would enable the United States to continue observingthe landmark Cold War-era agreement while building a limited defense systemof radars and interceptors. Russia has so far opposed changes in the ABMpact.

GOP presidential candidate George W. Bush has accused the Clintonadministrationof dragging its feet on missile defense and said he would build the systemover Russian objections.

In his speech, Helms accused Clinton of seeking "a signing ceremony,a final photo op . . . shaking hands with the Russian president" in orderto strengthen his legacy as president--and made it clear he wants no partof it.

"If the price of that final curtain call is a resurrection of the U.S.-SovietABM Treaty that would prevent the United States from protecting itselfagainst missile attack, then that price is far too high," he said. "Withall due respect, I do not intend to allow this president to establish his'legacy' by binding the next generation of Americans to a future withouta viable national missile defense."

Jon Wolfsthal, an arms control specialist at the Carnegie Endowmentfor International Peace, said Helms's comments highlighted the wide chasmsthat now exist on the issue: "Any deal that the Clinton administrationmight be able to negotiate with Russia would be unacceptable to this Senate,and any deal that the Senate would like would be rejected by the Russians."
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D. U.S. – Russia General

Dangerous Summit
        William Safire
        New York Times
        April 27, 2000
        (for personal use only)

WASHINGTON -- In six weeks, the cock-of-the-walk president of Russiaand the lame-duck president of the U.S. will hold what Churchill called"a parley at the summit" in Moscow.

The central subject: Russia's need to cut the cost of maintaining thousandsof missiles aimed at the U.S., and America's need for limited defense againstrogue-nation missiles.

The threat to American cities is no longer from the huge Soviet missilearsenal, as it was when the Antiballistic Missile Treaty was signed threedecades ago. That's when the superpowers agreed to stay vulnerable, eachlargely defenseless against the other's nuclear weaponry.

Today the growing threat comes from rogue states and terrorists. DefenseSecretary William Cohen made the case yesterday: Saddam Hussein could builda nuclear bomb, buy a missile from North Korea and invade his neighborson the presumption he could act with impunity -- because he could crediblythreaten to kill millions of Americans if we dared to intervene.

Recognizing this potential blackmail threat, Congress passed and PresidentClinton signed a proposal to develop a defense against a few missiles.This is not the space-based shield derogated as "Star Wars" to block anall-out Russian attack, but a necessary precaution against a terrorist'snuclear blackmail or any accidental launches.

Clinton has promised to decide this summer (after his meeting with VladimirPutin) whether to move beyond development to deploy a national missiledefense. His announced criteria: Will it work? Will it upset the world?Is it worth the money?

Will it work? It's not easy to shoot down a missile with another missile;one test succeeded, another flopped. But many who insist it will neverwork were doubtful our technology could ever put a man on the moon.

World opinion? The Russians, the Chinese, the U.N.'s Kofi Annan, joinedby Britain's Tony Blair, have all come out against the U.S. achieving safetyagainst terrorist nukes.

Worth the money? The Congressional Budget Office just put out an estimatethat this plan, adding in all conceivable bells and whistles, might cost$60 billion over the next 15 years. Sounds expensive, but that annual $4billion is less than two-tenths of 1 percent of the federal budget -- nota bad insurance premium to pay for protecting a city's population.

Putin's gambit at the summit will be to offer Clinton this package:Russia will finally go along with Start II, reducing the Russian and U.S.stockpiles of missiles, provided (1) the U.S. agrees to slash its stockpilein half again in Start III, and (2) Clinton adheres to the ABM treaty andallows U.S. cities to remain vulnerable to attack from rogue states andChina.

Pretty shrewd opening, because Russia cannot afford to keep even itsreduced missile force operational, and wants the U.S. to weaken itselfbeyond prudence in Start III. By making a big deal out of not touchingthe ABM treaty, Putin cleverly puts his counterpart with the stronger handat a disadvantage: the legacy-hunting Clinton will be tempted to cave onone or the other -- ABM or Start III -- to make a deal that he can sayis historic.

Putin knows that a limited missile defense poses no threat to Russia'sdeterrent. But what he has done is to create a valuable bargaining chipout of nothing.

Clinton is being snookered by it. His new security spokesman, Mike Hammer(to gun-toting La Femme Nikita at Justice, now add Mickey Spillane's heroat the White House), told yesterday of "our efforts to preserve the ABMtreaty" by amending it.

The Clinton response to Putin's gambit is likely to be a plea for aminor modification in the ABM treaty that would lock us into a puny, notjust a limited, defense. When Putin oh-so-reluctantly accedes to this,all those resentful of U.S. power will applaud his statesmanship. Clintonwould then match the Russian's concocted "concession" by slashing our missileforce in Start III, which is Putin's other goal.

A better deal is no deal at all. Go to Moscow; work the fence; signenvironmental stuff, and kick the can of worms that is serious nationalmissile defense down the street to the next president, who will have afresh mandate to ensure American safety.
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Bush Debates Foreign Policy With Russian
        Alison Mitchell
        New York Times
        April 27, 2000
        (for personal use only)

WASHINGTON, April 26 -- Gov. George W. Bush met with the Russian foreignminister today, airing differences over a missile defense system and Chechnyabut still expressing hope that the two nuclear powers "can work togetherto keep peace in the world."

For Mr. Bush, who has faced sustained questions about his inexperiencein foreign affairs, the hourlong session with the Russian, Igor S. Ivanov,was his second venture into the field this week. On Monday he dedicateda bridge over the Rio Grande and shared a stage with President ErnestoZedillo of Mexico.

Mr. Bush's aides said the Russian minister had long sought the meetingwith Mr. Bush, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, who wasin Washington for a Republican fund-raising gala. Mr. Bush was joined byhis chief foreign policy adviser, Condoleeza Rice, and by Paul Wolfowitz,an under secretary of defense in the administration of Mr. Bush's father.Mr. Ivanov also brought along aides.

The Texas governor and his aides said the talk ranged from a discussionof President-elect Vladimir V. Putin's goals for his country, to UnitedStates investment in Russia, to one of the most serious disagreements betweenthe two nations: American interest in developing an antimissile defensesystem.

Mr. Bush, like many other Republicans, has said that if the Russiansare unwilling to suitably amend a 1972 treaty on antiballistic missiles,he would back out of the treaty to free the United States to pursue itsown course. Other Republican leaders, including Senator Jesse Helms, arefirmly opposed to changes that might be negotiated by President Clintonbefore he leaves office.

Mr. Bush told reporters after the session: "I explained to him my positionas to why we need to develop a system to protect ourselves and our alliesagainst a rogue missile launch, against any missile launch. It's part ofredefining a post-cold-war era."

He also said: "I made it very clear that I was going to think in thebest interests of the United States. First and foremost, and the best interestof our country is to figure out how to keep the peace."

The two men also disagreed over the Russian military campaign in Chechnya.Aides to Mr. Bush said that Mr. Ivanov vigorously defended his nation'sconduct while Mr. Bush told him, "It is troubling for me as a potentialpresident to see use of force on innocent civilians."

Ms. Rice said afterward that Mr. Bush discussed how American executiveswould make decisions on whether to invest in Russia. He told Mr. Ivanovthat with the struggle in Chechnya continuing it would be very hard todo business in Russia.

The meeting had its light moments too -- when Mr. Bush and Mr. Ivanovstarted conversing in Spanish, for instance, confounding the Russian translator.Mr. Putin, 47, and Mr. Bush, 53, are of the same generation, a fact thatseemed to intrigue Mr. Bush. "I think that was very encouraging," he said."It's time to redefine relations."

Mr. Ivanov later said the meeting with Mr. Bush presented "an opportunityto deliver our position."

When his campaign for president began, Mr. Bush made several misstepson foreign policy, mispronouncing the names of various nationalities andfailing a quiz on lesser known world leaders that was sprung on him bya reporter.
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Russian Missile Roulette
        Washington Times
        April 28, 2000
        (for personal use only)

Who wants to play Russian roulette with American national security?The White House may be inclined to do so. Fortunately, Sen. Jesse Helms,chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is refusing to go along.Let's hope the senator remains firm in this stand.

At long last, the new Russian government has placed on the table thedeal on arms control and missile defense that has been the subject ofspeculationfor more than a year now. It involves nothing less than two arms controltreaties and the future of U.S. national missile defense. These are highstakes indeed, and must be declined by the Senate should the White Housebe foolish enough to play along — as every indication is that it will.The timing of the Russians is beautiful. With an outgoing president eagerfor something — anything — to show for his scandal-ridden presidency, theU.S. government would appear poised to fall into the trap.

First step was the belated ratification of the Strategic Arms ReductionTreaty (START) II, which Russian President Vladimir Putin pushed throughthe Russian Duma as one of his first official acts. START II reduces thenumber of nuclear warheads on both sides to 3,500 and was foolishly viewedin the West as a conciliatory Russian step and a good omen for the newpresidency.

Then came the iron fist. At the United Nations on Tuesday, Russian ForeignMinister Igor Ivanov issued a tough warning: Should the United States decideto proceed with a national missile defense system, it would "destroy" the1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM), he said, and have dire consequences."The prevailing system of arms control agreements is a complex and quitefragile structure," Mr. Ivanov said. "Once one of its key elements hasbeen weakened, the entire system is destabilized. The collapse of the ABMtreaty would, therefore, undermine the entirety of disarmament agreementsconcluded over the past 30 years." This "entirety" obviously includes STARTII.

This doesn't mean, however, that the Russian government will not generouslyallow the United States an itsy-bitsy missile defense, a mere handkerchiefof a system, wherewith to defend its citizens. Yesterday, Mr. Ivanov toldreporters that Russia would be willing to accept a limited, land-basedsystem capable of intercepting a few incoming missiles from Iraq or NorthKorea. Allegedly, such a system can be built (is indeed being planned bythe Clinton administration for construction in Alaska) with just a fewrevisions to the ABM treaty. Mr. Ivanov was all sweetness and light andcame up with a constructive proposal: The United States and Russia wouldimplement minor changes to the ABM Treaty negotiated in 1997, and agreeto START III cuts of nuclear warheads to 1,500.

Isn't that nice? The Russians will get to cut an arsenal that isdeterioratingrapidly anyway, and we will get to tie our own hands behind our back asregards missile attack from any and all enemies of the United States (whichof course may include the Russians).

To his enduring credit, Mr. Helms has made it clear that no such dealwill get the stamp of approval from his committee; it would be "dead onarrival." "This administration's time for grand treaties is clearly atan end," Mr. Helms said. "We will not consider any new, last-minute armscontrol measures that this administration negotiates in its final closingmonths." It would be a disaster if Mr. Clinton's final act in office wasto undermine American national security. It must not happen.
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