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US Senator Discusses Nuclear Disarmament with Russia - 2002-08-29


One of the co-authors of a U.S. program aimed at helping to safeguard Russia's weapons says both countries must press forward with disarmament. U.S. Senator Richard Lugar held talks in Moscow with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov.

Senator Lugar met with Mr. Ivanov following an eight-day tour to some of Russia's most secretive military sites.

Mr. Lugar called the trip constructive, and said both the United States and Russia need to continue efforts to reduce the threat of weapons of mass destruction.

He said bureaucracy sometimes stymies disarmament efforts by both countries. But he expressed confidence the process could be kept on schedule.

The United States and Russia signed a disarmament treaty earlier this year that calls for significant cuts in the two countries' nuclear arsenals.

Mr. Ivanov predicted swift passage of the disarmament treaty when it comes up for ratification before the Russian parliament. He also said unresolved issues like monitoring and a timeline for the cuts will be discussed during his visit to Washington next month.

Cash-strapped Russia has had to seek help from the United States and other Western countries in safeguarding and destroying some of its Soviet-era stockpiles of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons.

The Nunn-Lugar program, named for the two U.S. senators who sponsored the legislation, is said to have helped eliminate nearly 6,000 Russian nuclear warheads, as well as hundreds of ballistic missiles, booster rockets and long range air-to-surface missiles.

U.S. officials say the program also has helped Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Belarus become nuclear-free.

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