Start 2 treaty one less problem for Clinton

THE Start 2 treaty settled in Geneva not only provides for the greatest ever reduction in the deadliest category of nuclear missiles. No less important, it removes one outstanding foreign policy issue from President-elect Clinton's in-tray.

Although no details of how the two sides had overcome the final technical problems, and despite the final text awaiting approval by Presidents Bush and Yeltsin, the deal drew a warm bipartisan welcome in Washington.

Lee Hamilton, the influential Democrat who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee, called the deal to reduce US and former Soviet strategic weapons by two- thirds from their pre-1991 levels, 'a great gift to the nation and the world' and 'a good send-off' for Mr Bush three weeks before he leaves office.

The impetus for a speedy conclusion of the Start 2 treaty came from Mr Yeltsin who, during his visit to China earlier this month, surprised the Americans by saying Russia was ready to sign such an agreement.

After the 1990 conventional arms cuts in Europe, and the first Start treaty signed in Moscow in summer 1991, the Geneva pact is the third arms control agreement of the Bush administration - and in the nuclear field, by far the largest of its kind.

The eleventh-hour haggling this week does not affect the central plank of Start 2: the reduction of both nations' strategic warheads by 2003 to between 3,000 and 3,500 apiece, compared with a combined total of almost 15,000 allowed by Start 1 and the 20,000- plus in existence.

Specifically, the accord will eliminate multiple-warhead land- based missiles, considered the most destabilising category of weapons, in their entirety. The lingering disagreements, now apparently resolved, involved Russian demands to keep SS-18 silos for use by single warhead SS-25s, which are currently mobile, and to 'download' the six-warhead SS-19 to a single warhead missile.

The Americans have apparently given ground on both issues. In return however Washington wants to retain the right to equip its fleet of B-1 bombers with nuclear weapons, as existing B-52s are taken out of service.

If the deal is finalised, it will make Mr Yeltsin a hero again in the West, where politicians and businessmen have been starting to wonder if not about his commitment to reform then at least about his ability to achieve it. At home in Russia, it will cut a lot less ice. Hardliners opposed to dismantling the former Soviet Union's nuclear arsenal will be angry while the mass of the population will judge their leader not on his foreign policy achievements but on the concrete improvements to the economy he can bring in the near future.

The same goes for the standing of the Russian Foreign Minister, Andrei Kozyrev. A Start 2 treaty would reinforce his popularity abroad and remove any lingering doubts about him in diplomatic circles after the bizarre incident in Stockholm earlier this month when he made a mock Cold War speech, as he said, to show the West what life would be like if Russia reverted to Communism. But an arms deal would hardly help him at home where, along with the defence, security and interior ministers, he must face parliament soon to have his reappointment to the cabinet confirmed by Russia's deputies.

In concluding Start 2 with the Americans, Russia does not need to worry about the reaction of the three other former Soviet republics which inherited atomic weapons - Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan - since they are supposed to hand over their missiles to Moscow and become non- nuclear states by 1998. But the Ukrainian parliament is dragging its feet over the ratification of the first Start treaty which did apply to the republic. Yesterday the head of the Kiev parliament's foreign affairs commission, Dmytro Pavlychko, said deputies could not address the issue until February or March because they had more urgent economic matters to debate and the more Washington pressured them for a vote, the more inclined they would be to take their time.

The Ukrainians insist they intend to ratify Start eventually but some Kiev politicians are speaking of the need for Western security guarantees to protect the republic from potential aggression by a nuclear Russia. Others are concerned that Russia will make a profit from dismantling the missiles of other republics. The US has promised Ukraine dollars 175m ( pounds 114m) in aid if it ratifies Start and assured the republic it will get a share of any money made from the sale of uranium from dismantled missiles.

Leading article, page 18

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?