Russia offers new steps to reduce the danger of nuclear war

Igor Ivanov, Russia's foreign minister, has urged the Bush administration to drop plans for a missile defence system, saying the president is embarking on a policy that is ''doomed to failure.'' Speaking at a meeting of the 66-nation Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, Mr Ivanov on Thursday offered new steps to reduce the danger of nuclear war. They included a new U.S.-Russian data centre on missile launches, a global system to track missile technology, and immediate negotiations on a START III treaty to shrink nuclear stockpiles to 1,500 warheads each. According to Mr. Ivanov, it is ''illusory'' for ''even the most powerful'' country to think it could independently create ''isolated islets of well-being and stability in today's world.'' Instead, every country should stick to ''painstaking disarmament negotiations'' to reduce the threat of global nuclear confrontation, he said. Moscow's proposals would preserve the 1972 U.S.-Soviet Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and allay fears in the United States of ''the so-called new missile threats,'' Mr. Ivanov said, referring to U.S. concerns of possible nuclear attack from countries like North Korea or Iran. The START II treaty would roughly halve U.S. and Russian arsenals to about 3,500 warheads each as soon as it goes into effect. Analysts quoted by the Associated Press say the United States now has about 7,500 nuclear weapons and Russia between 6,000 and 7,000.