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BBC Monitoring
Nuclear arms race not over between Russia, USA - paper
Source: Vremya MN, Moscow, in Russian 11 Jun 03

By raising the issue of security at Russia's nuclear arsenals, the USA is trying to distract attention from its own nuclear programmes, Viktor Litovkin, a military correspondent at the RIA-Novosti news agency, says in a newspaper article. According to him, the Russian military and scientists may use Washington's nuclear efforts as an excuse to develop new nuclear warheads. The article ends with a list of US and Soviet-Russian nuclear disarmament moves. The following is an excerpt from an article published by the Russian newspaper Vremya MN on 11 June; subheadings have been added editorially:

The US Senate has voted to lift the ban (imposed ten years ago by Congress) on the development of low-yield nuclear warheads. The reasons for such a decision on Capitol Hill were not concealed. Washington needs such warheads for antimissile missiles in its ABM system. Only missiles of this type can defend the USA against a massive attack by ballistic missiles launched by "rogue states".

[Passage omitted: Summary of US-USSR relations dealing with missiles.]

For the most part, scientists, public figures, and arms specialists speak about the problem of tactical nuclear weapons. Not so long ago, this problem was discussed at a seminar at the Moscow Carnegie Centre.

Experts believe that the lack of agreement in such a delicate field raises a number of questions before politicians and the military. Without answering such questions, it is difficult to hope for the strengthening of confidence and a full-fledged development of cooperation between Moscow and Washington, as well as between Russia and NATO, even within the framework of the 2002 Rome Declaration [on "new" relations between Russia and NATO].

Russia may be threatened by US nuclear programmes

In Washington, the Americans are calling their European arsenal "useless from the military point of view" but they are saying that it is a "political" factor of deterrence. However, a reasonable question arises in this connection: just who is being deterred by these "tactical nuclear" bombs? If Russia [is the object of deterrence], just how does that tie in with George Bush's statements "on special relations of trust [between Washington] and Moscow"?

There was another factor upon which the Russians participating in the seminar focused their attention. The Americans are calling these nuclear weapons in Europe "tactical" nuclear weapons but, for Russia, these weapons are strategic.

USA trying to distract attention from its nuclear efforts

The USA is avoiding discussing this issue, speaking more and more about the problem of the security of the tactical nuclear weapons stored in Russia. In the Senate and in the House of Representatives, voices are ringing out about the possibility of capture of Russian tactical nuclear weapons by terrorists and the threat of a nuclear collapse. They [US congressmen] are insisting on the necessity for the establishment of international (meaning, American) monitoring of these weapons.

Maj-Gen (retd) Vladimir Dvorkin, a former chief of the 4th Central Scientific-Research Institute of the Defence Ministry, raises a direct question: why is Washington suddenly so concerned about the state of our nuclear arsenals? What is the end purpose for such concern? Is it to begin full-scale negotiations on an outright reduction of tactical nuclear weapons, reach agreement on mutual monitoring and control over them and increase confidence-building measures between the two countries? Or is it to achieve other goals, which have not yet been disclosed?

These questions are particularly pressing if it is recalled that, while discussing the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT), which went into effect at the beginning of the next month after an exchange of ratification documents, Russia proposed a discussion of the transparency of all nuclear arms, including tactical nuclear weapons. Washington declined this proposal.

Russian experts suspect that the desire [of the Americans] to mask the development by the Pentagon of new types of tactical nuclear weapons and the modernization of old tactical nuclear weapons, as well as their preparations for full-scale tests of these weapons at a testing range in Nevada, is the reason [why the Russian proposal was rejected].

From time to time, reports about this leak into the press round the world. What's more, Washington's refusal to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, the allocation by Congress of considerable funds for keeping the testing range on stand-by, and now the [congressional] resolution on the development of low-yield nuclear warheads all testify to the fact that, with respect to tactical nuclear weapons in the USA, not everything is as unequivocal and simple as it appears in statements of some politicians.

In our country, the attitude of some generals and scientists towards tactical nuclear weapons is similar to that of the Americans. They can hardly wait until Washington begins its testing in Nevada. Then they say that Russia cannot but also resume testing [at testing ranges] in Novaya Zemlya. We also need new warheads both for our Topol missiles, with their multiple warheads, and for sea-based missiles. Thus, it appears that the nuclear arms race soon will take a new turn.

A comparison of US and USSR-Russian initiatives regarding tactical nuclear weapons:

The USSR-Russia:

All nuclear warheads for ground-based tactical weapons and nuclear artillery munitions destroyed. All nuclear mines destroyed.

Nuclear warheads of air defence missiles removed and kept at centralized storage facilities. Half of them destroyed.

All tactical nuclear weapons from combat ships, multipurpose submarines and naval aircraft removed and placed at centralized storage facilities. A third of them destroyed.

A half of aviation tactical nuclear weapons destroyed.

The USA:

The entire arsenal of tactical ground-based nuclear weapons, including nuclear warheads for tactical missiles and nuclear artillery shells destroyed.

The USA does not have nuclear mines.

The USA does not have nuclear warheads for air-defence missiles.

All tactical nuclear weapons, including sea-based nuclear cruise missiles, tactical nuclear weapons from surface ships, including aircraft carriers and similar weapons from assault submarines and naval aircraft removed and placed at central storage bases. Part of them to be liquidated.

The USA is keeping its air-based nuclear munitions in Europe.

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