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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 32, November 1998

Pentagon Said to Recommend Unilateral US Cuts

On 23 November, the New York Times reported that the US Defense Department (DoD) was urging the Clinton Administration to consider reductions in US nuclear forces below the level stipulated by the START I Treaty (6,000 warheads). According to the report, the DoD is worried about the cost - estimated at nearly $100 million in the last two years - of maintaining the START I level of the arsenal, compared to the envisaged START II level of 3,500 warheads. The Times reported that the Administration had not yet decided to accept or reject the proposals, no details of which were provided. Congressional legislation currently prohibits the US from lowering the arsenal below the START I maximum level before START II enters into force.

Speaking to reporters on 23 November, Defense Secretary William Cohen observed: "We're looking at a variety of options in terms of how we deal with the issue of maintaining START I levels consistent with the Congressional mandate." Cohen pointed out that the proposals mentioned in the Times articles were contained in a "highly classified document" and that "we intend to keep it at that level for the time being."

Reports: Pentagon asks Clinton to consider arms cuts - NY Times, Reuters, 23 November; Pentagon reviewing nuclear arsenal, Associated Press, 23 November.

© 1998 The Acronym Institute.

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