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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 43, January - February 2000

Albright Arms Control Discussions in Moscow

Note: see News Review for coverage of US-Russia arms control discussions in Geneva, January 19-21, 2000.

Joint Albright-Ivanov Press Conference

Press Conference by US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, Foreign Press Centre, Moscow, January 31, 2000.

Opening Remarks by Foreign Minister Ivanov: 'We have discussed the entire scope of US-Russia relations. I think our negotiations were constructive, honest and useful. They once again have confirmed - at the highest level - the readiness of the US and Russia to step up cooperation between the two countries and showed a strengthening of an atmosphere of stability and predictability in our relations. Together with the Secretary of State, we drafted a schedule of further high-level contacts to take place in the next months. Today we signed an inter-government agreement on technology, space launch and a protocol on amendments to the Nuclear Risk Reduction Agreement. We paid special attention to issues of increasing security and stability, including the disarmament process. The main issue here is to act in accordance with the Cologne consultations [of June 1999] on START and ABM. …'

Opening Remarks by Secretary of State Albright: 'The Foreign Minister and I were able to cover a great deal of ground today in almost six hours of in-depth talks. Arms control and non-proliferation figured prominently, including prospects for the new Duma's early ratification of START II and for early steps toward a START III. We also spent considerable time discussing an interest I am convinced is mutual: maintaining the long-standing strategic benefits of the ABM Treaty while also permitting both our countries to answer growing missile threats from unpredictable third countries. Obviously these are unlikely subjects for one-day miracles. But the stakes are high, and we are determined to seek common ground. Success would make both of our countries safer. … Finally, I want to say just a word about two agreements we signed this afternoon. The first protects sensitive US satellite technology and underscores our commitment to further aerospace cooperation with Russia. The second updates and modernizes a 1987 agreement establishing Nuclear Risk Reduction Centers in Moscow and Washington. This mechanism has not generated earth-shattering headlines. But it has worked quietly to help us avoid shattering the earth. And now it will work even better. …'

Questions-and-Answers

Question: 'In her speech, Ms. Albright mentioned you had six-hour negotiations on ABM. Is there any movement toward each other in this area?'

Secretary Albright: '[F]irst of all I think that the whole issue of where we are is to try to come to some common understanding of the nature of the threat that we see coming from the unpredictable nations and I can testify to the fact that it is not easy to come to a common ground on this. We do have a different view. We will continue to pursue this discussion because, representing the United States, we feel very strongly that there is a threat not only to us, but to Russia and other counties. That we are concerned about that as we look at adjustments to the ABM Treaty which would be necessary if we were to go forward with a national missile defense. We continue to talk on the basis of an agreement that was reached between our heads of state in Cologne where it was decided that offensive and defensive questions would be discussed as a package and so we continue to have this discussion. It will continue at a variety of levels and I am hopeful because we have successfully dealt with these issues in the past that we will come to a common understanding.'

Foreign Minister Ivanov: 'I would like to add that, based on the Cologne agreements between our presidents, we will have quite an open dialogue on ABM and START issues this month. This dialogue should be open because it covers the essence of the strategic stability on which the whole world peace has been standing during the last several decades. We honestly said to our American partners that their suggestions to amend the ABM treaty could ruin this agreement. It would be a grave mistake, since this agreement is the foundation for the whole structure of the security system. We are sure that, together, we can find other responses to the threats that may come from other countries. We are open to this dialogue and, in fact, are conducting it now. At the same time, we think it necessary to move ahead with strategic arms reduction. The Russian Government has confirmed it intends to reach the START II ratification. We also think it is necessary to intensify work on defining the parameters of the START III treaty. We should look for other opportunities that will allow us to establish strict control over rocket technologies. In other words, we will extend constructive cooperation that will not harm what we have done so far and will help further strengthen strategic stability. This is how we will conduct our future relations with the United States.'

Question: 'Both governments seem to be serious in their intention to reduce their remaining arsenals of long-range nuclear warheads, but the momentum that the people who care about arms control were so happy to see only a few years ago, particularly under Mr. Gorbachev, seems to have evaporated. What in your opinion is the cause of this slowdown? Is it the US space weapons aspiration? What is doing it? Or is there less trust and less cooperation than one would think there used to be in reducing those arsenals?'

Foreign Minister Ivanov: '… You remember quite well the negotiations on START II - I will not list specific dates. The negotiations were difficult, though they ended with serious results. Unfortunately, for some objective reasons, START II has been ratified neither in Russia nor in the US [Editor's note: START II was in fact ratified by the US Senate in January 1996]. As you know and understand, without ratifying and starting to implement the START II, further reduction is just impossible. We understand the importance of further arms reduction and, despite the fact that START II has not been ratified in Russia nor in the US, our presidents in Cologne agreed to start consultations on START III and ABM - treaties that will dramatically reduce the nuclear arsenals of both countries. These consultations are going on now, so the sooner we, in our own countries, achieve the ratification of the START II, the earlier we will be able to start negotiations and practical realization of the next step, START III.'

Secretary Albright: 'If I could just add here, I think that the Foreign Minister has made very clear the relationship of these various pieces of arms control discussions and I am very pleased to hear him say how important the ratification of START II is, that will allow us to go forward on START III that is being discussed on the basis of an agreement that our leaders made in Helsinki [in March 1997] on numbers that were from 2,000 to 2,500 and those are the basis of the discussions and obviously we're interested in whatever suggestions will be coming as we get into serious negotiations on that. And again to repeat, as I have said and he has said, the agreements reached in Cologne that put the offensive and defensive packages together for discussion, I think that's an important aspect of understanding the process that is taking place on arms control discussions at this time. …'"

Source: Press availability with US Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright and Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, US State Department transcript, Office of the Spokesman (Moscow), February 1.

Meeting with Acting President Putin

Remarks by Secretary Albright summarising meeting with Acting President Vladimir Putin, Moscow, February 2, 2000.

"Question: 'In your speech [to the Diplomatic Academy], you dwelled on the problem of proliferation and you said they'd made a good start with the new regime but that you needed more action. What you did mention, at least North Korea and Iran are specific areas of concern, did you take this up with him in specific terms, and did you get anything in the way of assurances that something they're doing, they will stop doing, and if so, what is it, please?'

Secretary Albright: 'Well, on proliferation we committed ourselves to work together on it and that he expressed agreement with the approach that we are taking and I talked about the need for strong enforcement of Russia's export controls. And that a process we've established to deal with that will be carried on. He did understand the importance of what was going on. We talked about North Korea and Iran and problems created by them in a variety of places.'

Question: 'I don't know if there's anything more you can tell us about his manner and his demeanor with you; your sense of him as a person. And also I wanted to ask about the ABM thing. In your speech you said we would urge the Russians not to just say 'Nyet' to changes in the ABM, and I wondered if that was also a restatement in positions.'

Secretary Albright: '… I was encouraged by the discussion on arms control and some seeming flexibility on deep cuts. He seemed to have a common, I don't whether we'd have the common view, but an understanding of new threats and how to deal with them while preserving the fundamental principles of the ABM Treaty. And we talked about the importance of getting START II ratified. So, I found him knowledgeable on the subject and, again, encouraged by flexibility. …'

Question: 'You mentioned that he seemed to show some flexibility on numbers and deeper cuts. Can you tell us whether you discussed START III and numbers below 2,500 or 2,000?'

Secretary Albright: 'I never said that he was flexible on numbers. I said that, overall, I was encouraged by his flexibility and that he did talk about deep cuts. But we never talked about numbers or any details of START III. …'

Question: 'Did he make the familiar promise to push for START ratification that we've heard?'

Secretary Albright: 'I asked him and he said he would. Yes.'"

Source: Press briefing with US Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright following a bilateral meeting with Vladimir Putin, Acting President of the Russian Federation, US State Department transcript, February 2.

© 2000 The Acronym Institute.

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