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Russia: Nuclear Missiles Stop Targeting Japan

Moscow, 26 June 1997 (RFE/RL) - Russia's defense forces have stopped aiming nuclear missiles at Japan upon orders from President Boris Yeltsin.

Interfax today quoted Yeltsin's spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembsky as saying that Yeltsin's order was implemented by the Defense Ministry.

The issue arose last week at the Summit of Eight in Denver when Yeltsin told Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto that Russia planned to stop targeting Japan. The pledge is a similar one he's made recently to NATO countries.

Japanese officials expressed surprise when Yeltsin said that Russian missiles were aimed at Japan. Yastrzhembsky then told reporters that Yeltsin "didn't say the missiles are pointed at Japan." But at a news conference yesterday, Yastrzhembsky suggested otherwise. His brief statement today appeared to confirm that Russian missiles have targeted Japan.