MEDIA RELEASE

MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS
ALEXANDER DOWNER







FA 20

27 March 1997

UNITED STATES-RUSSIAN AGREEMENT ON FURTHER REDUCTIONS IN NUCLEAR ARSENALS WELCOMED

I warmly welcome the agreement reached between the United States and Russian Federation at the Helsinki Summit on parameters for further reductions in both countries' nuclear forces.

This agreement builds on the bilateral nuclear arsenal reductions under the START I and START II process (the Treaty on Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms). Sign)ficantly, the agreement establishes guidelines for a further round of reductions - START III - which will reduce strategic warhead stockpiles for both countries to some 80 percent below Cold War peaks. The Presidents of the United States and Russian Federation committed to commencing negotiations for START III immediately upon entry into force of START II.

I strongly hope the Parliament of the Russian Federation will now be in a position to ratify START II, thereby clearing the way for even deeper reductions under START III. This would not only benefit the people of Russia and the United States, but also advance the interests of global security.

Taken together with recent progress in the field of multilateral arms control and disarmament negotiations, including the adoption in September 1996 of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and the indefinite extension of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in May 1995, the United States-Russian agreement represents an important building block in the process of moving towards the goal of the ultimate elimination of nuclear weapons.