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Russian Duma Approves Global Nuclear Test Ban Treaty

Aired April 21, 2000 - 2:05 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

ANDRIA HALL, CNN ANCHOR: In Moscow, Russia's lower house of parliament approved a global nuclear test ban treaty today, and that steps up pressure on the United States to do the same.

CNN's Steve Harrigan reports it's another quick strike for Russia's new leader.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

STEVE HARRIGAN, CNN ANCHOR: It was the second major arms-control agreement in a week pushed through parliament by Russia's acting president, Vladimir Putin. This time, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty on nuclear weapons. The Russians say they've taken the moral high ground. Now the burden is on the Americans.

GENNADY RYKOV, RUSSIAN PARLIAMENT MEMBER: We hope that the administration of Bill Clinton can renew this process of ratification of this treaty in the Senate.

HARRIGAN: The vote comes on the heels of the ratification of the START II treaty, which would cut the number of nuclear warheads in Russia and the U.S. in half. Under Boris Yeltsin, START II languished in the Duma for five years. Mr. Putin's quick success is partly due to numbers. Many communists who opposed START II were defeated in the last Duma elections.

Another factor may be Mr. Putin's personal lobbying inside the Duma, a radical departure from the style of his predecessor.

SERGEI ROGOV, MILITARY ANALYST: Yeltsin, who perceived himself as an elected czar, didn't want to bargain with the parliament on any issue.

HARRIGAN: The Russian arms treaty offensive is rooted in economic necessity. The Defense Ministry says it does not have the money to replace aging missiles, that cuts are the only way to maintain parity with the United States.

Neither treaty will have any immediate impact. START II still needs U.S. Senate approval for protocols added in 1997. For the test ban to go into effect, all potential nuclear powers would have to ratify the treaty. Holdouts include the U.S., China, India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel. (on camera): But the new initiative puts arms control talks back on center stage after years of neglect and shows that Russia's new leader, unlike Boris Yeltsin, can make a deals with his parliament.

Steve Harrigan, CNN, Moscow.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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