U.S. urges ratification of START-II: Duma may consider the issue in 1998

The Duma did not ratify the treaty in 1997, planning to consider the question in the first quarter of 1998. Meanwhile, President Bill Clinton will not go to Moscow to meet his Russian counterpart before the ratification issue is settled.

Giving his final 1997 press conference in late December, Russian foreign minister Yevgeny Primakov stressed once again the necessity of ratification, claiming that "it is in our common interest, in particular Russia’s interest." Primakov expressed his confidence that the treaty would be ratified in the course of 1998.

Speaking for the parliament, Vladimir Ryzhkov, vice-speaker of the Russian parliament said the Duma may consider the issue of ratification in the first part of 1998, giving no guarantee ratification will actually occur.

Meanwhile U.S. President Bill Clinton made a statement in late December 1997, saying that his visit to Russia in 1998 very much depends upon ratification of START-II.

The START-II agreement was signed by the two presidents in January 1993, but only the U.S. Senate has ratified it so far. The treaty calls for reduction of the Russian nuclear strategic arsenal, down to 3250 nuclear warheads. In March 1997, the two presidents, at their meeting in Helsinki, agreed to prolong the time period for the dismantling operations from 2003 until December 31, 2007.

Igor Kudrik

igor@bellona.no