START-2 ratification postponed until fall

Publish date: June 27, 1998

Written by: Igor Kudrik

The ratification of START-2 treaty is postponed until fall. "There is no point getting into disarmament race", commented on the decision Gennadiy Seleznev, the Russian Duma speaker.

The Russian government made the last attempt to persuade Duma members to debate START-2 ratification before its summer recess on July 10 by arranging a seminar at the Defence General Headquarters Academy on June 16. After the seminar, Liberal Democratic Party leader Vladimir Zhirinovskiy claimed his party does not support ratification of the treaty at all.

Earlier in June, a group of Duma faction leaders met Foreign Minister Yevgeniy Primakov, Defence Minister Igor Sergeev and other security officials. Asked later if START-2 might be ratified before Duma summer vacation, Duma speaker Gennadiy Seleznev replied "No, there is no point getting into a disarmament race. " Earlier this year Seleznev said the ratification would be debated in June. Vladimir Lukin, the chairman of the Duma Foreign Affairs Committee, said he "would be amazed if the Duma is ready for ratification before fall."

Roman Popkovich, the chairman of the Duma Defence Committee, said at a press conference on June 19, the ratification would be debated in September. Popkovich added that delay with ratification is beneficial neither for Russia, nor for the rest of the world. He believes that uncertainty with ratification of START-2 in Russia influenced to a certain grade the nuclear programs in India and Pakistan.

On the other tack, Russian daily Komsomolskaya Pravda with a reference to some sources in the Defence Ministry, wrote Russia is reconsidering its strategic plans after India and Pakistan detonated nuclear bombs. The Russian Defence Ministry officials believe, according to the newspaper, the reduction of nuclear arsenals is not a viable option, taking into account the fact that the number of countries in possession of nuclear devices will grow in the future to come. Thus, ratification of START-2 is quite senseless.

The START-II agreement, the acronym for the Strategic Arms Reduction Talks, 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.