Washington, 16 October 1996 (RFE/RL) -- U.S. Defense Secretary William Perry today started a three-day visit to Moscow for talks with Russian Defense Minister Igor Rodionov and a meeting with members of the Russian parliament.
Reuters news agency says Perry told reporters who flew to Moscow with him that a Russian refusal to approve the START-2 international nuclear arms reduction treaty would cost Moscow and Washington thousand of millions of dollars and would not delay enlargement of NATO to Central and Eastern Europe.
START-2 was signed by the Washington and Moscow three years ago. The US Senate ratified the treaty in January and the Russian parliament is expected to vote on it later this year. Perry is scheduled to meet tomorrow with members of the foreign, defense and security committees of the Duma.
Before leaving Washington yesterday, Perry said he hoped to encourage Russian parliamentary ratification of the treaty, which aims to reduce current levels of strategic nuclear forces by about two-thirds, leaving the United States and Russia each retaining about 3,000 to 3,500 warheads.
Perry said rejection of START-2 would cost the United States and Russia more to maintain strategic nuclear weapons at current levels than to further reduce the two countries' Cold War stockpile under the treaty.
"There certainly are shutdown costs with closing down a missile program," he said.
He added that in the United States, the dismantling cost is measured in several hundred millions of dollars, but the estimated savings from the START treaty are measured in thousands of millions.
Perry, who is due to hold talks with Rodionov today and tomorrow, also said that Washington will not allow the Duma to use START-2 as a bargaining chip to keep NATO from expanding eastward.
Perry is being accompanied by three key U.S. senators who sponsored U.S. legislation aimed at helping former Soviet states reduce nuclear weapon stockpiles.