Strategic Weapons: February 16, 2000


Senators of both parties have warned Russia, the Pentagon, and the State Department that there will be no START III strategic nuclear weapons treaty unless the Russians follow through on 1991-92 promises by then-President Yeltsin to cut tactical nuclear stockpiles. At the time, the START II treaty was calling for drastic cuts in strategic nuclear warheads (to 3,000 for Russia and to 3,500 for the US) and both sides agreed to corresponding cuts in tactical weapons. The US (seeking to save money) has done so, eliminating entire classes of tactical weapons and reducing the current stockpile of such munitions to only 1,600. The Russians have at least 7,000 and possibly 12,000 tactical nuclear weapons and have done nothing to reduce the stockpile. While the US ratified the START II Treaty in 1996, the Russian Duma has never brought it up for a vote. The Senators have warned that START III (expected to cut strategic stockpiles to 1,500 each) will not pass while the Russians maintain a huge advantage in tactical weapons. --Stephen V Cole


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