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Russia, U.S. could only lower nuclear combat readiness as part of general disarmament - expert

MOSCOW. Oct 16 (Interfax) - Russia and the United States could
reach an agreement to lower the level of their nuclear forces' combat
readiness only as part of a general disarmament program, which would
include conventional forces, said Col. Gen. Viktor Yesin, former chief
of the Main Staff of Russia's Strategic Rocket Forces.

"Measures aimed at reducing [the level of] nuclear combat readiness
and at promoting nuclear disarmament as a whole could be taken only in
parallel with a general disarmament process, including conventional
forces, as well as through strengthening strategic stability on the
basis of common security guarantees," Yesin told Interfax. on Friday.

The Russian general offered his comments in response to a report
that was drafted by experts under the aegis of EastWest Institute and
presented at the UN headquarters on Thursday.

The authors of the report believe that Russia, the U.S. and other
countries that have nuclear weapons should discuss both quantitative
reductions of their nuclear arsenals and the possibility of shortening
periods of time between decisions to use nuclear weapons and the actual
use of such weapons.

Yesin, who helped prepare the report, said that "it would be wrong
to separate the nuclear component from the entire weapons system."

"Of course, Russia, which does not have the sufficient potential of
conventional forces comparable to NATO's arsenals, will never agree to
nuclear disarmament until general disarmament is approved," the expert

"Steps toward lowering the combat readiness of missile systems and
in the area of nuclear disarmament in general are possible only in
parallel with efforts aimed at maintaining international stability and
at promoting general disarmament," he said.

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