Ivanov Warns of Space Arms Race

MUNICH, Germany — Security Council Secretary Sergei Ivanov said Sunday that U.S. plans to deploy an anti-missile system would undermine world stability and lead to a new arms race in outer space.

Speaking at a defense conference in Munich, Ivanov offered talks on deep cuts in strategic nuclear arms if Washington abandons its plans.

"The destruction of the ABM treaty will result in the annihilation of the whole structure of strategic stability and create prerequisites for a new arms race, including one in outer space," Ivanov said in remarks clearly aimed at the new administration of U.S. President George W. Bush.

Defense analysts say the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty between the United States and the then-Soviet Union would be breached by the new U.S. system if it were to come into force.

"Restraining the so-called rogue nations — to use the American terminology — may be carried out more effectively from the point of view of both expense and consequences by means of a common political effort," Ivanov said. "The situation in North Korea is the obvious example because the situation a year ago seemed much worse than today."

He spoke a day after new U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, speaking in Munich, reiterated Washington's intention of developing a missile shield despite objections from its European allies, Russia and other nations.

U.S. officials have cited the threat of missile attacks from nations such as North Korea as a reason to deploy a defensive shield.

Ivanov held out the possibility of substantial arms control cuts if Washington drops its missile defense plans and preserves the ABM treaty limiting Russia and the United States to a single defensive missile site each.

Since the 1970s, only Russia has maintained such a site, which it deploys around Moscow.

"If the ABM treaty is maintained, Russia is ready for radical cuts with the United States of strategic offensive weapons to as low as 1,500 and even lower than this level," Ivanov told the conference. "We are also ready for an immediate start to official talks with the United States on SALT III."

The alternative was a dangerous arms race into space, Ivanov said, urging an international conference on preventing the militarization of outer space.

"Such a conference is to give a new impetus of countries' efforts to keep outer space free of weapons of any kind," he said. "The problem is very urgent."

U.S. officials say the ABM treaty is an antiquated relic no longer essential in the post-Cold War world, an argument Russia rejects. "The cornerstone of strategic stability is the 1972 ABM treaty," Ivanov said.