Twelve months ago the USA announced its withdrawal from 1972 ABM Treaty

Exactly twelve months ago, on December 13, 2001, the USA announced its unilateral withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty signed between Moscow and Washington in 1972.

Before that, the USA stated on many occasions about its intention to withdraw from the Treaty, which, in its opinion, "failed to respond to today's realities," and start to create the national missile defence system.

In its turn, Russia insisted on the preservation of this important bilateral document, which was of international significance and, in the expression of Moscow, "a cornerstone of strategic stability and security." Meanwhile, on December 13, 2001, U.S. President George Bush gave a formal notice about the U.S. withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. In compliance with article 15 of the Treaty, the final withdrawal by the USA from the Treaty occurred on June 13, 2002, six months after the official notification.

The Russian leadership immediately said about the erroneous nature of this decision by the U.S. administration.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin came up with a statement in connection with the U.S. decision to unilaterally withdraw from the 1972 ABM Treaty.

He noted that Russia "has been against the joint withdrawal from the ABM Treaty, persistently offered by the USA, and done everything possible to preserve this Treaty being guided by the principle of preserving and strengthening international legal foundations in the field of disarmament and non-proliferation of mass destruction weapons." In the meantime, as the President of Russia noted, "the decision adopted by the U.S. President does not create a threat to the national security of the Russian Federation." On his part, head of the Russian Foreign Ministry Igor Ivanov expressed the opinion that the decision by the U.S. administration to unilaterally withdraw from the ABM Treaty was not dictated by security considerations and was "a political decision reflecting certain ideology." At the same time, Ivanov pointed out that Moscow welcomed the U.S. publicly expressed readiness to immediately start negotiations with Russia on the new framework of the strategic relations between the two countries and on the contractual formalisation of radical cuts in strategic offensive armaments to the level of 1,500-2,200 nuclear warheads for each side.

On May 24, 2002 Presidents of Russia and the USA Vladimir Putin and George Bush signed in the Kremlin the Treaty on strategic offensive reductions, which was supposed to be subsequently signed by the parliaments of both countries.

When commenting the other day on the process of ratifying the treaty on strategic offensive reductions, official spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry Alexander Yakovenko said that already late in May the Foreign Ministry and the Defence Ministry of Russia had informed the chambers of the Federal Assembly (the parliament of Russia) on the text of the treaty. After that, the parliamentarians received its item-by-item commentary. Further on, the specialty committees of the lower and upper houses - the State Duma and the Federation Council - held a number of sessions where representatives of the Russian Foreign and Defence Ministries, and other federal bodies of executive power gave their detailed explanations with respect for various aspects of the treaty on strategic offensive reductions.

Simultaneously, after the requisite examination, the Russian Foreign Ministry prepared, jointly with the relevant federal bodies of executive power, a package of documents relating to the ratification of the treaty on strategic offensive reductions and submitted it to the government of Russia for consideration. After its approval by the government, this package of documents was submitted in November to the Russian President who introduced it into the State Duma for discussion. Now the Federal Assembly of Russia will continue to consider the draft law on the ratification of the treaty on strategic offensive reductions.

Alexander Yakovenko also said that during the Russian-U.S. summit in St. Petersburg on November 22 both sides again expressed the hope that "the process of ratification of the treaty on strategic offensive reductions both in Moscow and Washington will occur simultaneously and that the treaty will come into effect in the near future." Speaking about the specific time limits, the diplomat presumed that the ratification of the treaty "will be over early next year and the treaty will start to work soon after that."

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