U.S. to offer more to Russia for disarmament

April 16, 1993|By Mark Matthews | Mark Matthews,Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON -- In addition to pledging an additional $1.8 billion in aid to Boris N. Yeltsin, the Clinton administration is preparing to sweeten the pot for Russia in a multibillion-dollar, 20-year effort to dismantle some of its nuclear weaponry.

Negotiations resume in Washington next week on a contract for Washington to buy highly enriched uranium from Russian nuclear weapons dismantled under arms control agreements.

A final deal, besides promising Russia huge sums over time and securing the safe re-use of its nuclear fuel in this country, could hasten the implementation of two sweeping long-range nuclear arms accords threatened by a dispute between Russia and Ukraine.

The United States had been prepared to pay Russia $10 billion for the fuel, but the Russians have demanded more. No agreement was reached during President Clinton's summit with President Yeltsin at Vancouver, British Columbia, although Mr. Clinton pledged to work toward reaching one.

When V. N. Mikhaylov, Russia's atomic energy minister, arrives here next week, the United States is prepared to raise its offer to between $11 billion and $12 billion, sources indicate.

Thomas Graham Jr., acting director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, refused to comment on the higher figure, saying that the current U.S. offer is "in the range of $10 billion."

The United States won't actually sign the contract, however, until Russia works out an agreement to share the sales proceeds with the other former Soviet states containing parts of the old superpower's strategic nuclear arsenal.

"Whatever they work out with themselves that it is acceptable is acceptable to us," Mr. Graham said in an interview. But he said "a relatively small percentage" of the weaponry to be dismantled under arms agreements is now in Ukraine.

Ukraine has refused either to ratify the START I nuclear-arms accord or to accede to the Non-Proliferation Treaty as a non-nuclear state. Until it does both, Russia is refusing to carry out the arms cuts.

In addition to a share of the uranium proceeds, Ukraine wants security guarantees from both Russia and the West and about $2.8 billion in U.S. aid.

The U.S.-Russian negotiations next week coincide with a session of the Ukrainian parliament, which must act to ratify the START accord. Without that ratification, Russia won't carry out the agreement and a subsequent pact calling for still deeper cuts could not go into effect.

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