|San Diego Union-Tribune
July 23, 2001
Bush, Putin forge arms accord
Unexpected plan links missile shield with nuclear cuts
By FINLAY LEWIS
COPLEY NEWS SERVICE
GENOA, Italy -- President Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin
reached an unexpected agreement yesterday on a new arms-control
framework linking U.S. plans for a missile-defense system with reductions in
their nuclear arsenals.
And as the leaders of the world's seven wealthiest countries and Russia ended their annual summit, they vowed yesterday to wage a united attack on global
poverty and disease. They failed, however, to resolve a sharp dispute over
Emerging from a two-hour meeting after the close of the summit, Bush and
Putin provided no details of their proposed deal. Nor did they spell out areas
of agreement. But by linking offensive and defensive arms, they seemed to be
hinting at an end to the Cold War approach toward nuclear deterrence --
referred to as mutual assured destruction.
"I'm optimistic we can get something done," Bush said. "We're basically
saying the Cold War is forever over, and the vestiges of the Cold War that
locked us both into a hostile situation are over."
Putin said the deal offers hope for a reduction in "thresholds of confrontation."
Neither side can discuss possible missile-reduction levels, he said, because
the agreement here was "unexpected."
"We're not ready at this time to talk about threshold limits or the numbers
themselves. But a joint striving exists," he said.
National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice will go to Moscow tomorrow to continue the talks.
"We expect to move quickly," she told reporters. "We clearly want an
aggressive schedule to see how quickly we may be able to sketch out an
Currently, Russia's strategic weapons inventory contains about 6,000
deployed nuclear warheads, compared with about 7,000 in the U.S. arsenal.
Those levels are slated to fall below 3,500 warheads under START II, the
second strategic arms reduction treaty. The Russians have suggested cutting
to about 1,500 warheads on each side.
Earlier, Bush, Putin and the leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Great Britain issued a summit-closing communique that focused heavily
on the issues of poverty relief, debt reduction, education, hunger and food
In a final commentary on demonstrations that resulted in the death of one
protester, the summit leaders deplored "the violence, loss of life and mindless
vandalism" that paralyzed this sea coast city.
"We will defend the right of peaceful protesters to have their voices heard,"
the communique added. "But as democratic leaders, we cannot accept that a
violent minority should be allowed to disrupt our discussions on the critical
issues affecting the world. Our work will go on."
They said they will not be deterred from holding the annual summits, which
began in 1975 and will continue next year in Canada despite the threat of
The protests surrounding the summit, which brought out up to 100,000
marchers, most of them peaceful, left nearly 500 people injured and claimed
the first fatality of these massive demonstrations against globalization.
Italian authorities estimated that in addition to $120 million spent sprucing up
Genoa for the summit, they had spent $25 million more on heavy security that
had turned much of downtown Genoa into a ghost town of deserted streets
and shops, with local merchants suffering heavy losses.
The leaders' communique also acknowledged that the climate change issue
divided the summit, pitting Bush against the other leaders. But the language of
the statement did not convey the intensity of the dispute.
Aside from Bush, they all said they intended to ratify the Kyoto treaty
committing them to substantial cuts in the emissions of heat-trapping
greenhouse gases. As the leaders issued that statement, negotiators in Bonn,
Germany, attended marathon sessions to try to reach a deal on the treaty.
Bush said the pact would cost too many U.S. jobs.
Putin offered to host a scientific conference of the world's best minds on
climate change. That approach appears compatible with Bush's pledge to
seek solutions that would harness new technologies and market forces to
solve the problem while averting the need for steep emissions cuts.
At the conclusion of the summit yesterday, Bush flew to Rome for a meeting
today with Pope John Paul II.
Yesterday's Bush-Putin announcement offered a sign that Bush's
determination to nullify the 29-year-old Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty, a linchpin
of Cold War arms-control pacts, may not be as disruptive to global
diplomacy as many had feared.
"As far as the ABM treaty and the issues of offensive arms . . . I've come to
the conclusion that two of these issues have to be discussed as a set," Putin
For Bush, the development appeared to represent a strong move toward
fulfillment of a campaign pledge to seek steep reductions in offensive strategic
weapons while building a missile-defense system.
After their first meeting, held last month, Putin seemed to hint that he would
retaliate if Bush unilaterally annulled the ABM treaty. Putin spoke of re-arming
Moscow's single-warhead missiles with multiple warheads and nullifying other
But yesterday he was more cautious.
By treating offensive and defensive weapons as a package, Putin said, "We
might not ever need to look at that option." But, he added, "it's one of our
After their first meeting in Ljubljana, Slovenia, Bush spoke enthusiastically
about Putin and the prospects for building a personal relationship based on
trust that would link the two former superpower adversaries and lead to
sweeping geopolitical dividends.
Opening a news conference yesterday, Putin announced that the two had "in
many ways strengthened the spirit of Ljubljana."
Bush replied by saying, "We're two young leaders who are interested in
forging a more peaceful world. . . . Both of us want to seize the moment."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.