U.S.-Russia to Hold Meetings on Nuke Reductions
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
BRUSSELS, Belgium, Dec. 17, 2001 U.S. and Russian defense leaders agreed to hold meetings beginning in January to chart how the two countries will cut their offensive nuclear arsenals.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his Russian couterpart Sergei Ivanov told reporters that their two-hour meeting went well. The men were even joking with each other as they began the ensuing press conference.
Rumsfeld said building a new relationship with Russia is going well. He quoted President Bush as saying, "We're moving from mutual assured destruction to mutual assured cooperation."
President Bush announced last month that the United States would cut its offensive nuclear arsenal from around 6,000 warheads to between 1,700 and 2,200. President Putin announced a similar reduction to between 1,500 and 2,200 warheads. Today's agreement between Rumsfeld and Ivanov calls for conversations "on the expert level on the specific issues and military aspects of the radical reduction of strategic offensive weapons," Ivanov said.
The two men also discussed areas of cooperation including the war on terrorism and increasing Russia's voice in NATO. Ivanov said there is "unprecedented" cooperation between the United States and Russia in the war on global terrorism. When the men began their meetings Ivanov told Rumsfeld the progress in Afghanistan was "so far, so good."
On NATO, Rumsfeld said the two countries are working with NATO to increase Russia's presence. He said the United States is looking at several models for including the Russians in NATO deliberations.
The men did not discuss the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in the meeting. President Bush announced earlier this month that the United States will withdraw from the 1972 pact in six months. Russia opposes America's withdrawal.
Reporters here asked Ivanov if Russia still has misgivings. "Russia is not concerned or afraid regarding its military security," he said. "But we're very much concerned about how other countries will behave."
Rumsfeld will meet with fellow NATO ministers here Dec. 18 and return to the United States on the 19th.