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Russia: New Arms Control Agreement Expected Before June - 2002-01-19

A senior Russian military official says the United States and Russia are likely to sign a new arms control agreement before summer. His comment comes after the two sides held meetings last week in Washington to discuss the issue.

General Anatoly Kvashnin says he expects a new agreement can be reached before the American withdrawal from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile, or ABM, treaty takes effect in June.

General Kvashnin is Chief-of-Staff of Russia's armed forces. He told reporters in Moscow that an agreement would, as he put it, lay the foundation for strategic stability, but only if all details are worked out in advance.

This was a reference to the U.S. decision to unilaterally withdraw from the ABM Treaty last month, which Russia has criticized.

In December, President Bush announced the decision to withdraw from what he considers a "relic of the Cold War" and no longer relevant.

Russian leaders say the treaty is the cornerstone of all arms control agreements between the two former Cold War enemies.

Russia says that any new agreements must be spelled out in detail in documents that both sides must sign.

During a summit meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin last year, President Bush said this would probably not be necessary, given the new climate of cooperation between the two countries.

However, last week, Russia was upset when Washington announced that warheads from nuclear missiles, which Mr. Bush had said would be "cut," will not be destroyed but put in storage.

The Russians insist that such details must be put in writing to avoid misunderstandings or confusion about what each side is obliged to do.

Mr. Bush has said the U.S. plans to reduce its strategic nuclear arsenal by more than half, to about 2,000 warheads.