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U.S. nuclear storage plans upset Russia

Jan. 11, 2002

The Bush adminstration was strongly criticized on Thursday by Russia on the U.S. plans to store rather than destroy decommissioned nuclear warheads.

Alexander Yakovenko, the spokesman for Russia's Foreign Ministry, said "We hold that Russian-American agreements on further reductions of the nuclear arsenals must be, first, radical - down to 1,500-2.200 warheads - second, verifiable and third, irreversible so that strategic defensive arms will be reduced not only 'on paper.'"

The Russian statement followed the results of a "nuclear posture review" by the Bush administration that porvided the first details of how Bush plans to reduce the U.S. nuclear arsenal over the next decade to 1,700-2,200 "operationally deployed" weapons.

Assistant secretary of defense, J.D. Crouch, said the U.S.would hold in reserve a substantial number of warheads as a "responsive capability."

New York Times reports, "A number of arms control experts said the U.S. reserve of nuclear weapons currently numbers several thousand warheads beyond the 6,000 in active service. Russia maintains a much smaller reserve, officials here say. Moreover, that reserve is expected to shrink rapidly as Moscow diverts more and more of its resources to upgrading its conventional military forces."

Russia's statement indicates that they are worried the U.S. is looking to have the long-term advantage in nuclear weaponry.

"What reduction can we talk about if the United States can go back to the Start-I level in just a couple of hours?" asked Alexei Pikayev, director of an arms control institute at the Russian Academy of Sciences. "It looks more like swindling," he added.

Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin have virtually identical goals for cutting the nuclear arsenals to around 2,000 warheads each, but Russian officials are openly concerned over the storage or destruction methods of "reduction."