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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 36, April 1999

Mixed Reports on US-Russia Y2K Cooperation

On 26 March, the Interfax news agency reported that Russia's Defence Ministry had decided to withdraw from all cooperation with the United States over minimising possible complications caused to nuclear-weapons computer systems by the 'millenium bug', or 'Y2K problem' (see last issue, for details of the cooperative ventures involved). The decision was reported to be in protest at the NATO bombing of Serbia. Robert Bennett, Chair of the Senate's Special Committee on the Year 2000 Computer Problem, expressed his dismay at the report (26 March): "I think it's very shortsighted and potentially dangerous. It doesn't mean something bad is going to happen. But it means that our chances of preventing something bad from happening just went down." The Senator added:

"The potential for nuclear accident is very small, but the thing we're finding here is that Y2K problems can kick off human errors... The best way to make sure some human doesn't make a mistake because of Y2K is mutual and open dialogue."

However, on 19 April Rosanne Hynes, head of the Defense Department's Year 2000 Committee, told reporters at a press conference in Moscow that Russia had not informed the US Government of any intent not to cooperate:

"Nothing relative to the Y2K [cooperative programme] has been formally called off or suspended or anything... We're still planning and we've received no communiqué from the Russians saying they're intending to cancel anything..."

Reports: Russia won't cooperate on Y2K bug, Associated Press, 26 March; Pentagon official - Russia still cooperating on Y2K, Reuters, 19 April.

© 1999 The Acronym Institute.

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