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US to withdraw from 1972 ABM treaty

US to withdraw from 1972 ABM treaty

Author:
Publication: The Times of India - Internet Edition
Date: December 12, 2001
URL: http://news.indiatimes.com/articleshow.asp?art_id=1627655069

President George W Bush has decided to give Russia notice that the United States will withdraw from the 1972 nuclear treaty that bans testing of missile defence systems, US government officials said on Tuesday.

Bush will announce the decision in the next several days, effectively invoking a clause in the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty that requires the United States and Russia to give six months' notice before abandoning the pact.

The White House plans called for announcing the decision on Thursday, but officials cautioned that date could change. The four government officials spoke on condition of anonymity. With the decision, Bush takes the first step toward fulfilling a campaign pledge to develop and deploy an anti-missile system that he says will protect the United States and its allies, including Russia, from missiles fired by rogue nations.

Bush has said the September 11 terrorist attacks heightened the need for such a system. Russia and many US allies have warned Bush that withdrawing from the pact might trigger a nuclear arms race. Critics of the plan also question whether an effective system can be developed without enormous expense.

Administration officials have said that Russian President Vladimir Putin had assured Bush during their October talks in Washington and Crawford, Texas, that US-Russian relations would not suffer even if Bush pulled out of the treaty. They said Bush's decision reflects a desire by the US Defense Department to conduct tests in the next six months or so that would violate the ABM.

The decision came as US Secretary of State Colin Powell, in Moscow, said Russia and the United States are near agreement on drastic cuts in long-range nuclear arsenals, but remain at odds over a US missile defence.

Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said the arms-reduction deal could be ready for the next summit between Bush and Putin, tentatively scheduled for Moscow next spring. But the US-Russian disagreement over missile defense is so deep that Russia braced for the possibility of a US withdrawal from the ABM treaty, Ivanov told a joint news conference with Powell at the Kremlin.

Despite the missile-defence impasse, both Ivanov and Powell were upbeat about prospects for wrapping up a deal to reduce nuclear warheads. Powell said he was taking Bush a Russian recommendation on arms cuts that responds to Bush's announcement last month that the United States would cut its nuclear arsenal over the next decade by two-thirds, from just under 6,000 warheads now to between 1,700 and 2,200.

Powell did not disclose specifics. But a senior State Department official said the Russian recommendation was in the same ball park as the Bush announcement.

(AP)
 


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