RUSSIAN PARLIAMENT SUPPORTS
I have today warmly welcomed
the news that the Russian Parliament - or Duma - has backed ratification
of the START II nuclear arms reduction treaty.
This is an important development
which paves the way for Russian ratification of the Treaty and
deep cuts to the nuclear arsenals of both Russia and the United
This news is particularly welcome
in the lead-up to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review
Conference, which will be held in New York from 24 April to 18
May. I will lead Australia's delegation to the Review Conference
and will address it on 25 April.
Australia now calls on the Russian
Government to complete as quickly as possible the ratification
processes for START H. The balanced, verifiable reductions in
nuclear arsenals envisaged under START II will enhance the security
of both Russia and the United States and will constitute an important
step along the road to the eventual elimination of all nuclear
The Strategic Arms Limitation
and Reduction Treaty (START) process is a critical component
of global nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation endeavours.
It offers the best prospects for significant and sustained reductions
in Russian and U.S. nuclear arsenals.
The reductions planned under
START I on accountable strategic warheads are running ahead of
schedule and when completed will cap each side at 6000 warheads.
Under START II, which the United States has ratified, deployed
strategic nuclear warheads will fall over the life of the agreement
to no more than 3500 each, some two thirds of Cold War peaks.
The United States and Russia
have already agreed that under START II both countries should
seek a level of 2000-2500 deployed warheads which, if achieved,
would represent an 80 percent reduction in such warheads since
the end of the Cold War.