Duma schedules START-II debate

Publish date: December 11, 1998

Written by: Igor Kudrik

The Russian State Duma will debate the START-II arms reduction treaty on Tuesday, December 15. The Duma's Foreign Relations Committee drafted the START-II ratification bill this week.

The Russian State Duma is to debate the START-II ratification bill on December 15. Earlier, the communist-dominated Lower House of the Russian parliament has blocked START-II ratification despite pressure from the Russian President and Government.

On Wednesday, December 9, the Duma’s Foreign Relations Committee drafted the START-II ratification bill, which contains amendments to the treaty. Alexey Podberyozkin, deputy chairman of the committee, said in an interview with Voice of America that the amendments would cancel the treaty if NATO threatened Russia or if the United States violates the ABM (anti-ballistic missile) treaty.

The American side reportedly has no objection to the Duma’s amendments.

"The Duma amendments are a matter between the parliament and the Yeltsin administration and do not affect the terms of the START-II treaty itself," reports Voice of America, referring to American diplomats.

The START-II agreement was signed by the American and Russian 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.

‘START-II’ is an acronym for ‘second Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty’.