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#9 - JRL 7209
Duma general says Russia could withdraw from just ratified arms treaty with US

Moscow, 3 June: The Russian-US Treaty on Strategic Offensive Reductions (SORT), which has come into force, allows our country to maintain its nuclear forces at sufficient level. Army Gen Andrey Nikolayev, chairman of the State Duma's committee on defence, said this today when asked by an ITAR-TASS correspondent to comment on the exchange of the treaty ratification documents. "Now, with the backing of international law, we can adjust and fine-tune our armaments programme, including arrangements for the scrapping of armaments," he stressed.

Andrey Nikolayev explained that the SORT treaty did not require Russia to destroy its heavy rockets immediately - the deadline for this is 2012. "This fact presents our scientists and specialists with the task of extending the service life of this exceptionally effective means of nuclear deterrence to the maximum degree possible," he said.

Furthermore, under the treaty Russia is allowed to fit multiple warheads to its missile systems. "We could not do this before. Now we have legal clearance for it," the deputy observed.

Nikolayev said that "if the USA develops a system (of ABM) which substantially affects our security, Russia will undoubtedly take commensurate steps, even including withdrawal from the SORT treaty". "The ratification law makes provision for this," the deputy noted.

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