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Cohen, Rodionov Announce Agreements

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 15, 1997 – Defense Secretary William S. Cohen and Russian Defense Minister Igor Rodionov addressed the problems of disposing of Russian nuclear and chemical weapons during a Pentagon news briefing May 13.

They also announced a series of agreements between the two defense establishments that will strengthen trust and lead to a reduction of tensions.

The two men announced a contract for Lockheed Martin Corp. to build a $52.4 million facility in Russia that will dispose of rocket motor cases and missile canisters from 410 ICBMs decommissioned under the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty I. "[The plant] will be built by Russian workers ... and is being funded under the Nunn-Lugar program," Cohen said. "This facility will be just as important in helping to eliminate weapons under START II."

Rodionov said Russia could learn much from the United States. "We are very optimistic about the possibility of a long-term cooperation in the field of reforming of the armed forces and training of military personnel," he said through an interpreter.

Among the agreements the two officials worked out were:

  • An agreement for the militaries to work more closely together either on a bilateral basis or through the Partnership for Peace program;
  • An agreement on new levels in cooperative threat reduction programs;
  • A continued commitment to intense, regular interactions between the nations' highest military education institutions -- the U.S. National Defense University and the Military Academy of the General Staff; and
  • Finally, an agreement to establish working groups to explore specific cooperation on military reform, counterproliferation, theater missile defense, post-Bosnia peacekeeping and military education in the 21st century.

The meeting also pointed to some areas of disagreement. Rodionov said the NATO plan to expand eastward "may damage the relationship" between Russia and the United States. "Each time I meet with my American or European counterparts, I try to explain the Russian position on this issue," Rodionov said. "It's a very sensitive and painful issue for Russia. ... But in general, I consider and I'd say today that this is a mistake -- to expand NATO eastward."

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Click photo for screen-resolution imageRussian Defense Minister Igor Rodionov (right) takes questions from news media during his visit with Secretary William S. Cohen (left). Joining the two defense chiefs is Air Force Gen. Joseph W. Ralston, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Staff Sgt. Lee Roberts, USAF  
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