Bush and Putin fail to make impact on nuclear arms control

Feature story - 24 May, 2002
Today's US/Russian arms control agreement was denounced by Greenpeace as meaningless and weak.

Symbolic return to sender of replica of nuclear bomb.

President Bush said the new agreement "will liquidate the legacy of the Cold War".

This claim is true only in that the United States and Russia are no longer adversaries. However, the legacy of environmental damage and human suffering of more than fifty years of nuclear materials and weapons production, the massive stockpiles of nuclear materials acquired and the remaining substantial nuclear arsenals on both sides will, however, remain for decades to come.

William Peden, Greenpeace Disarmament campaigner said that, "What people must realise is that with the Treaty of Moscow, not one single nuclear weapon will be destroyed."

"Russia and the United States could have set the example today that nuclear weapons are not tolerable and must be outlawed. Instead they have sent a clear signal that it is acceptable to retain nuclear weapons indefinitely.

According to Greenpeace the agreement signed in Moscow:

- will not legally bind either side to destroying a single nuclear warhead or delivery vehicle (missile, plane, submarine or truck);

- has no legally binding means of verification;

- is of limited duration (ten years, with no guarantee that its limited constraints will be maintained);

- has no benchmarks to help gauge treaty compliance or non-compliance;

- allows maximum flexibility in how each side structure their nuclear arsenals over the next decade - including the possibility of new nuclear weapons development and

deployment, and;

- does not address the thorny issue of the thousands tactical nuclear weapons still deployed by both sides.

As Peden said, "This treaty undermines the past practice of reducing nuclear arsenals in legally binding treaties that are both irreversible and verifiable. Without such norms, the incentive for the other six nations who possess nuclear weapons to themselves permanently reduce their nuclear arsenal is limited."