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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Arms to Top Agenda Of Yeltsin's U.S. Visit

President Boris Yeltsin will propose new ways of stopping the spread of nuclear arms and germ and chemical warfare weapons when he addresses the UN General Assembly next Monday, Itar-Tass news agency said.

The agency quoted Yury Baturin, presidential national security adviser, as saying there was concern in Russia that regional conflicts such as the 1992 Iraq-Kuwait war and ethnic and religious disputes could lead to the use of "weapons of mass destruction."

Baturin gave no further details but said Yeltsin's initiatives would be aimed at tying a greater number of countries into a commitment on non-proliferation of such weapons.

The 63-year-old president will address the Assembly before flying to Washington for a two-day summit with U.S. President Bill Clinton on Sept. 27 and 28. Yeltsin flies to New York on Sunday after talks in Britain with Prime Minister John Major to prepare the way for a visit to Russia next month by Queen Elizabeth.

He is scheduled to meet U.S. Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali and business leaders in the United States before making his speech to the General Assembly.

In an echo of Cold War days, nuclear weaponry is expected to be a main topic of the Yeltsin-Clinton summit.

U.S. officials said Wednesday that Clinton will appeal to the Russian parliament to ratify a 1993 treaty sharply reducing arsenals of long-range nuclear missiles but he will resist any attempt to set lower ceilings.

Administration officials said Clinton's strategy for the meeting with Yeltsin is to stick to the ceiling of 3,000 to 3,500 set in the 1993 START II treaty -- a level that suits the Pentagon but strikes some Russian parliamentarians as too high.

A group of Russian parliamentarians, in Washington in advance of Yeltsin's visit, is warning that the START II treaty is in trouble in Moscow because a reduction to 3,500 actually forces Russia to build up its arsenal.

The Russians have been dismantling nuclear weapons to the point they are down to about 7,000 warheads -- not counting those in Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Belarus. If they followed through with START II's restrictions, Russia would reduce to about 2,500 warheads because the treaty requires the destruction of all multi-warhead weapons. So, the parliamentarians argue, the United States should agree to a lower level -- about 2,250. Otherwise, they have told administration officials, Russia would have to go to the expense of building up to the range of 3,000 to 3,500.

Defense Secretary William Perry said Tuesday the United States already has reduced its arsenal of strategic, or long-range, nuclear arms to levels required by the 1991 START treaty -- technically a maximum of 6,000 warheads on each side, but actually 8,000 permitted for the United States.

"The most important reason to be concerned about the future is that Russia still has about 25,000 nuclear weapons -- many more than enough to threaten our national survival," Perry said. (Reuters, AP)