Bush wishes to revise antiballastic missile treaty

In the aftermath of the recent declarations that the new administration in the White House wishes to re-launch the Strategic Defence Initiative, it is now declared by a presidential spokesman, quoted by the New York Times, that at the same time, President Bush wishes to reduce America’s nuclear arsenal. The Antiballistic Missile Agreement was signed between the USA and Russia in 1972 and its aim was to set a limit to the number of warheads possessed by each country. The situation at present is that the USA has 7,519 nuclear warheads and Russia has 6,464. The idea presented by President Bush is to reduce the number of warheads to somewhere between 2,500 and 6,500. This would in effect be a revision of the 1972 treaty. The reasons quoted by President Bush are that it is necessary “to prepare the transition from the old world to the new. This new world, when we arrive there, will be one in which defensive forces will have an important role to play in peace-keeping and offensive forces will have the dimension and characteristics to perform their new task of dissuasion”. It will be remembered that President Clinton last year tried to introduce a measure to reduce the number of nuclear warheads to below the numbers stipulated by START III (2,000 to 2,500 warheads each) but his military advisors persuaded him to drop the initiative. George Bush presented his ideas at the National Press Club and again linked his desire to restart the SDI with the threat of international terrorism.