ABM scrapping needs homework: army chief

12 Nov 2001

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MOSCOW, Nov 11: Russia and the United States need to build a new strategic balance before scrapping the cornerstone 1972 ABM treaty so Washington can deploy its planned missile shield, Russia’s army chief said on Sunday.

Multilateral and bilateral agreements concluded in the 1960s to the 1980s continue to constitute the foundation of strategic stability, Chief of Staff General Anatoly Kvashnin was quoted as saying by news agencies.

“The most important of them is the 1972 ABM treaty,” he said.

“Now that assertions are being made that something is obsolete and must be changed, we should first think and create something new in the area of strategic stability.

“We have to approach the problem of strategic stability from a position of a quantitative and qualitative balance in strategic offensive and defensive weapons,” added Kvashnin.

Moscow has displayed signs of flexibility on the ABM issue in recent weeks, although in an interview on US television on Wednesday, President Vladimir Putin reaffirmed the Russian position that the treaty was “essential, effective and useful.”

As Putin and his US counterpart George W. Bush prepare to hold a summit in the United States next week, most analysts predict a compromise deal on missile defence has been worked out, probably in some detail.

This would see Russia agreeing to amend the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty, which bars the deployment of such missile defence systems.—AFP