At the turn of the millennium, the world has reached a new frontier in nuclear disarmament, non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and strategic stability. There have been indisputable achievements in this area recently: a number of crucial decisions were adopted by the participants in the NPT Review Conference, an informative dialogue on disarmament issues took place at the Millennium Summit in New York, and the First Committee of the General Assembly of the United Nations endorsed several important resolutions. Russia has also made its contribution, having ratified the Treaty on the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (START II), the package of the New York 1997 agreements on anti-missile defence, and the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.
A consensus has taken shape in the international community: there must be no pause in nuclear disarmament, and the disarmament process must be intensified. We must ensure real progress in this area. Russia is ready for this.
We do not see what could prevent further huge reductions in strategic offensive arms. We have proposed to the United States to bring down the number of warheads to 1,500. This goal can quite feasibly be reached by 2008. But this is not the limit, we are ready to go even further. We agree with the view voiced in the United States that to reach such an agreement we will not have to conduct protracted negotiations or to start from scratch. We already have considerable experience, and there are legal mechanisms stipulated by START I and START II. We hope that the United States Senate will follow the example of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation and complete the ratification of the START II Treaty and the ABM-related agreements. But the main objective now is for Russia and the United States to start without delay moving together towards radically reduced ceilings on nuclear warheads.
We must strive towards that goal while preserving and strengthening the 1972 ABM Treaty. We are told that the situation in the world has changed significantly in the past three decades as new missile threats have arisen, which allegedly require corresponding changes in the ABM Treaty. The situation has indeed changed, but not to such an extent as to warrant breaking the existing system of strategic stability by diluting the ABM Treaty.
Measures to counteract the spread of missiles and missile technologies can be taken without abandoning the ABM Treaty and acting primarily by political and diplomatic methods. A vivid example is the intensive dialogue between the United States and the DPRK on the problems of missiles. Ways to improve the political and legal mechanisms of missile non-proliferation are being actively discussed in multi-lateral format, and work is underway to develop a new code of conduct in this field and to create a Global System of Missile and Missile Technology Control.
For the countries that raise the question of a military-technical ”safety net“ we offer broad cooperation in the sphere of theatre missile defence, which fits into the ABM Treaty. The technological developments for that already exist. The Moscow Centre on Missile Launch Data Exchange, now being created by Russia and the United States, which must in future be open for all the interested countries, could provide an element of such cooperation. We have already invited European and other representatives to join this work. I hope that the new US leadership will not object to such a use of the Centre in the interests of strengthening regional and global stability.
Russia is ready to continue the dialogue with the United States on the ABM issues over which we differ. The dialogue started more than a year ago. The obligation to consider all the issues affecting the ABM Treaty is contained in the treaty itself. Accordingly, we are open to the continuation of such a discussion within the Permanent Advisory Commission, a negotiating forum that has been working successfully under the treaty since 1973; and if necessary, agree on upgrading the level of representation of the parties in the Commission.
The implementation of a pragmatic and long-overdue programme in the field of real nuclear disarmament proposed by Russia will make it possible to strengthen strategic stability and international security on the threshold of the new 21st century.