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Russia: Nuclear Arms Still Significant

Alabino, Moscow Oblast; 24 September 1997 (RFE/RL) - Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev says Russia's nuclear arsenal will still serve as guarantor of the country's security even after the START 2 nuclear arms reduction treaty takes effect.

Sergeyev was speaking to military commanders outside Moscow today. The START 2 treaty would reduce U.S. and Russian stategic nuclear weapons to 70 percent of Cold War levels and also eliminate land-based multiple-warhead missiles.

But Sergeyev said eliminating those missiles will pose the biggest financial problem for Russia in fulfilling the terms of START 2. However, the Russian defense minister noted that a significant portion of the country's land-based missile force is obsolete.

The Russian Duma has not ratified START 2, which the U.S. Senate passed last summer. Russian critics of START 2 are wary of NATO expansion. They also say U.S efforts to develop an anti-ballistic missile defense system would violate the 1972 ABM treaty.