U.S., Russia Sign Nuke Treaty, Chart New Course
By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May 24, 2002 U.S. President George W. Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin today signed a treaty to substantially reduce both countries' strategic nuclear warhead arsenals.
"It's an historic and hopeful day for Russia and America," Bush said in Moscow. "It's an historic day for the world, as well."
Signing the arms control agreement, he said, ends a long chapter of confrontation and opens an entirely new relationship between the two countries.
The treaty calls on the United States and Russia to cut their strategic nuclear forces by two-thirds. The United States currently fields about 6,000 warheads. The treaty will reduce the U.S. arsenal to between 1,700 and 2,200.
"Today," Putin said, "we together counteract global threats and challenges, and we're going to form a stable world order that is within the interests of our peoples and our countries. And I think it's in the interest of all the civilized human society."
Bush said the treaty lays the foundation for America and Russia to work in a sprit of cooperation and trust, now and in the future. He said the two countries have embarked on a "new strategic relationship that charts a course toward greater security, political and economic cooperation."
"Our nations will continue to cooperate closely in the war against global terror," he said. "I want to thank President Putin for his understanding of the nature of the new war we face together, and his willingness to be determined and steadfast and patient as we pursue this war together."
Both nations must work to prevent proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, Bush said, noting that he and Putin had discussed Iran in this context and agreed to work closely on this very important issue.
"I worry about Iran and I'm confident Vladimir Putin worries about Iran, and that was confirmed today," he said. " He understands that weapons of mass destruction are dangerous to Russia, just as they are to America."
Bush said the two leaders spoke "frankly and honestly about the need to make sure that a non-transparent government run by radical clerics doesn't get their hands on weapons of mass destruction." It is in both countries' interests to solve this problem, he said.
The United States and Russia also will work together, the president said, to rebuild Afghanistan, to improve security in the Republic of Georgia and to achieve a political settlement in Chechnya. Bush and Putin also agreed on the importance of the new NATO-Russia Council due to be launched May 28 at a NATO summit in Rome.
"For decades, Russia and NATO were adversaries," Bush said. "Those days are gone and that's good. And that's good for the Russian people. It's good for the people of my country. It's good for the people of Europe, and it's good for the people of the world."
Noting that he is impressed by the entrepreneurial growth in Russia, Bush said both countries are committed to economic cooperation. "We want Russia to be a part of the world economy," he said. "We look forward to one day welcoming Russia as a member of the World Trade Organization." Trade disputes over steel or poultry, he added, will be resolved in a spirit of mutual respect and trust.
By working together, Bush said, the two nations can make the world more peaceful and win the first war of the 21st century.
"That is the war against cold-blooded killers, who want to harm nations such as America and Russia," he said. "I'm confident that when we work together in a spirit of cooperation on all fronts, both our peoples will benefit."