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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Bush and Putin Sign Nuclear Arms Reduction Treaty

Aired May 24, 2002 - 04:56   ET

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


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Carol Costello at the CNN Center in Atlanta. We're breaking in to our regular programming for coverage of a very special event. As you can see, it's happening right now in Moscow where President Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin are about to sign a major nuclear arms reduction treaty. They just walked into this beautiful hall in the Kremlin. It's called Andreyevsky Hall, and it is very, very ornate.

This agreement is historic because it slashes U.S. and Russian nuclear forces by about two-thirds. That will happen over a 10-year period.

Let's watch the signing right now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... treaty between the Russian Federation and the United States of America on strategic offensive reductions is being signed.

COSTELLO: This is considered a very historic moment because it is perhaps the most dramatic nuclear arms reduction in history. President Bush bought a -- brought along a whole contingent and they are sitting in the audience. They include National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of State Colin Powell and even Karen Hughes, the president's adviser who was in semi-retirement I guess. She left her son and Texas and headed to the Kremlin for this very historic event.

The president actually says it will rid the two countries of the last vestiges of the Cold War confrontation.

Let's listen in once again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... between the Russian Federation and the United States of America is being signed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING RUSSIAN).

COSTELLO: We're going to get the translation up for you in just a second.

As you can see, it's a very dignified ceremony, and they have to sign more than once. This treaty will reduce each nation's arsenal of about 5,000 to 6,000 warheads to about 1,700 to 2,200 warheads. And for all of you who grew up during the Cold War era, this is quite a scene. Look at the American flags between the leaders of these two countries, the United States and Russia.

(APPLAUSE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... development...

COSTELLO: A standing ovation after this historic treaty is signed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All new Russian-American energy (ph) dialogue on (UNINTELLIGIBLE), on Russia-U.S. people-to-people contacts, on the situation in the Middle East.

COSTELLO: The two will speak for about five minutes apiece and then take questions from reporters.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: President Putin, thank you very much.

Laura and I are so grateful for your hospitality and your friendship. It's an historic and hopeful day for Russia and America. It's an historic day for the world as well.

President Putin and I today ended a long chapter of confrontation and opened up an entirely new relationship between our countries. Mr. President, I appreciate your leadership. I appreciate your vision. I appreciate the fact that we have now laid the foundation for not only our governments but future governments to work in a spirit of cooperation and a spirit of trust. That's good. It's good for the people of Russia; it's good for the people of the United States.

President Putin and I have signed a treaty that will substantially reduce our strategic nuclear warhead arsenals to the range of 1,700 to 2,000, the lowest level in decades. This treaty liquidates the Cold War legacy of nuclear hostility between our countries. We have also signed a joint declaration of a new strategic relationship that charts the course to a greater security, political and economic cooperation between Russia and the United States.

Our nations will continue to cooperate closely in the war against global terror. I understand full well that the people of Russia have suffered at the hands of terrorists and so have we. And I want to thank President Putin for his understanding of the nature of the new war we face together and his willingness to be determined and steadfast and patient as we pursue this war together.

President Putin and I agree also that the greatest danger in this war is the prospect of terrorists acquiring weapons of mass destruction. Our nations must spare no effort at preventing all forms of proliferation, and we discussed Iran in this context today. We will work closely with each other on this very important issue.

Our nations also agree on the importance of a new NATO- Russia council that will be launched in a few days in Rome. And Mr. President, this council is also a tribute to your leadership and your vision. For decades, Russia and NATO were adversaries; those days are gone, and that's good. And that's good for the Russian people, it's good for the people of my country, it's good for the people of Europe and it's good for the people of the world.

Russia and the United States are also determined to work closely on important regional challenges. Together, we will work to rebuild Afghanistan; together, we will work to improve security in Georgia. We will work to help end fighting and achieve a political settlement in Chechnya.

Russia and the United States are committed to economic cooperation. We have launched a major, new energy partnership. Private firms will take the lead in developing and transforming the vast energy reserves of Russia and the Caspian world to markets through multiple pipelines such as the Caspian pipelines consortium in Baku-Ceyhan pipeline, and I want to thank you for the cooperation and the willingness to work together on energy and energy security.

Russia is building its market economy, opening new opportunities for both our countries. I'm impressed by the level of entrepreneurial growth here in Russia.

It's a significant achievement. It's again, it's a testimony to the leadership of Vladimir Putin.

In a while, we're going to meet with Russian and American business leaders to discuss how we can continue fostering good relations and fostering opportunity.

We want Russia to be a part of the world economy. We look forward to one day welcoming Russia as a member of the World Trade Organization. President Putin and I also agree that we'll work to resolve disputed areas of trading, such as poultry or steel, in a spirit of mutual respect and trust.

America welcomes the dramatic improvement in freedoms in Russia since Soviet days, including the new freedoms of Russia's Jewish community.

In recognition of these freedoms, I am determined to work with Congress to remove Russia from the Jackson-Vanik Amendment.

It is time our Congress responded to my request and President Putin's desire that the Jackson-Vanik amendment be removed pertaining to Russia.

I also discussed with President Putin the important role of free press and building a working democracy, and today, we will meet with media entrepreneurs from both countries. It's an issue we discussed before. The president said it makes sense to have a forum where media entrepreneurs can meet and visit, and it's going to take place today.

Mr. President, I appreciate that.

I am pleased with our relationship. I am confident that, by working together, we make the world more peaceful. I'm confident that, by working together, we can win the first war of the 21st century, and that is the war of cold-blooded killers -- against cold- blooded killers who want to harm nations such as America and Russia. And I'm confident that when we work together in a spirit of cooperation on all fronts; both our peoples will benefit.

Mr. President, thank you for your hospitality.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Distinguished Americans, colleagues, the distinguished Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen.

We've just accomplished the initial part of our talks with the U.S. President George Bush. Our distinguished colleagues have visited Moscow and St. Petersburg, but now we can name the major result of our talks.

First of all, the logical development and practical implementation as seen by our agreements reached in Crawford last year -- I mean, the signature of the treaty between Russia on strategic defensive reductions and, first of all, this document.

It's the statement of our countries to reduce our nuclear arsenals and join to work for nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

It's the decision of two states which are particularly responsible for international security and strategic stability.

We are on the level of adopting the declaration on a new strategic relationship which determines the basic directions in security and international policy. It will have a positive impact for economic cooperation and development of our relations between the institutions of public -- general public.

And together with Mr. President, we discussed especially this aspect of civil society and between the people of our countries. The declaration formulates the principles of our dialog and anti-missile dialog; that is, the transparency and the openness and exclusion of potential threats. We confirmed the general agreement on offensive and defensive systems in all their aspects.

A separate issue: The mechanism of NATO-Russia cooperation within the framework of 20, it presumes a new level of joint responsibility and confidence between all its participants. I would like to stress especially that that is the international novelty, and it happened because of the strengthening of Russian-American relations, including enjoined confrontation with international terrorists -- struggling with international terrorism.

The Russians work together with the American people since September the 8th (sic), and we're grateful for sincere feelings of compassion (inaudible) by President Bush on behalf of American people because of those recent events in Kaspisk.

The memory of terrorism victims and the responsibility for the security of our people means a joint struggle against this evil as well as the struggle against extremism (ph). The spirit of our cooperation will mean fruitful results even today.

That's why the agenda has very concrete issues of interaction against terrorism on the basis of unique standards against any manifestation of terrorism and extremism.

We need close contacts through all agents of our services, including special services. Here, we have a very positive experience we have accrued over the past years, and we see it today, we feel it today during the negotiations.

The bilateral working group on Afghanistan has demonstrated its efficiency, and we, with Mr. President, would like to transform it on a group to combat terrorism, especially chemical, biological and nuclear terrorism.

Russia and the United States are oriented to build new relations in economic activity. Our business mentality is much alike; that's the --their qualities and their joint work is based on free trade and supporting the initiatives. That's why our task is to open new opportunities for the business community.

We need to avoid obstacles of the past. Here, we mean not only the market status of the Russian economy -- and I'm grateful to Mr. President that he has given a very positive signal during our talks. And it -- don't also mean the -- such things as the Jackson-Vanik amendment, we have to remove administrative obstacles which includes both countries to cooperate, especially in the high-tech sphere which determine the economy of the 21st century; that is the aeronautics, telecommunications, science and technologies, new sources of energy.

I would like to focus on energy, especially nuclear energy. We paid much attention to it today. And much performance of our cooperation will be a good element for the global economy on the whole.

I would like to stress in conclusion that, of course, not all ideas, not all initiatives, are on paper and in the form of official documents, but a serious move forward in all these issues is quite evident for us.

Today, we are together, counteract to global threat and challenges and we are going to form stable world order that is within the interest of our peoples and our countries, and I think it's in the interest of all the civilized human society.

Thank you.

QUESTION: I have a question for both presidents, please.

If we've truly entered a new era, why do you each need 1,700 nuclear weapons? And President Putin, why does Russia need to continue producing nuclear warheads? And President Bush, why does the United States need to keep some 2,000 of these weapons in storage ready for deployment?

BUSH: First of all, remember, where we've come from. We've come from 6,000 to 1,700-2,000 in a very quick period of time.

You know, friends really don't need weapons pointed at each other. We both understand that. But it's a realistic assessment of where we've been, and who knows what'll happen 10 years from now. Who knows what future presidents will say and how they'll react.

If you have a nuclear arsenal, you want to make sure they work. And so, one reason to keep weapons in storage apart from launchers is for quality control.

But the thing I think that is important for you to know is that we've made tremendous progress from the past, and the treaty is setting a period of time in the rearview mirror of both countries. And I am not only confident that this is good for world peace, I am confident that it sets the stage for incredible cooperation that we've never had before between our countries.

PUTIN (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Yes, the assessment given by my colleague, Mr. Bush, and naturally -- and our position is well-known -- we are guided by the fact that it's more worthwhile, perhaps, to eliminate a certain part of nuclear potentials.

At the same time, I'd like to point out another thing here: Any man who has at least once in his career dealt with arms -- had the arms in his hands, at least a hunter's rifle or whatever -- he knows that it's much better, much safer to see that you have it in stock disarmed, disassembled, perhaps, rather than have it in your arms and charged with bullets in it and with your finger on the trigger at the same time.

This is a different state of affairs, as it were, and the fact that we agreed with President Bush regarding such a detente in such manner, this is a serious move ahead to ensure international security, which is a very good sign as regards the relationship between our two countries.

Now, as to why Russia should continue to produce nuclear arms, I'd like to say that this is not our priority, but in addition to Russia and U.S. out there, there are other states who possess nuclear arms. What is more concerning, there are countries who want to acquire weapons of mass destruction.

Experts in the area of international security are aware of the fact, and they've been talking a lot about nuclear arms as deterrent. Moreover, many of them assert -- and it's difficult to dispute this fact -- they say that the existence of nuclear arms was an impediment, an obstacle which contained the world from large-scale wars over the past decades, let's say, and I think we should take that into consideration while building a new quality of relationship within the two main nuclear states of the world.

We also should pay attention to the whole set of relations currently in the world, and we should take into account the prospects of development of the world in the realm of security, bearing in mind those potential threats I've mentioned here.

QUESTION (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Mr. Bush, when can we hope that Jackson-Vanik will be rescinded, which currently is very out of place? That's a, you know, remnant of the Cold War here. And will the U.S. continue to use it as a leverage of applying pressure on Russia? And when Russia will finally be recognized as a marketplace country? And what's the prospect of Russia's accession to WTO?

And now to Mr. Putin, Mr. President. What's your idea of how U.S. planes (ph) can help the Russian civilization?

BUSH: I couldn't make myself more plain during my opening statement about how I feel about Jackson-Vanik. It requires action by the Congress of the United States, and I hope they act.

The marketbased economy is an issue that the president and I talked about. It is a regulatory matter; the responsibility of which resides at the Commerce Department. Secretary Evans and I have talked about this subject, and we'll have an answer to the president soon.

And in terms of success of Russia ascending to the WTO, it's something that we want. It's in our nation's interest that Russia be a part of the WTO, and we look forward to working with the president and the respective ministers to see that that happens. It's in our interest that that happen.

And so, -- it's hard for me to predict the timetables on all the issues you mentioned. Those over which I have got direct control will happen relatively quickly.

PUTIN (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): You know, while talking about the whole set of commercial and trade ties between our two countries, today, we've mentioned more than once that we are facing somewhat of an unusual situation in this area today, which has to do with the fact that, while improving relations in disarmament matters, building confidence and so and so forth, at the same time we are extending the whole set of relations in the economy area, and naturally, we'll face new problems that we never had to deal with before.

The position taken by the U.S. administration and the president is now in process regards Jackson-Vanik, it's precisely the administration who initiated its rescinding, and business communities of our two countries -- American and Russian business communities -- and their interaction, together with the interaction of the the parliamentary issues, we will be able to remove similar problems in an automatic manner, I guess.

Now, as regards your specific question on purchase of planes (ph) I must say that the best lobbyists of the interests of U.S. companies will be American president standing here, since both planes (ph), poultry and other matters, you know, very often have been told by my colleagues -- people usually say, "Well, it's not on our level, but I must say," and then there will be a lengthy monologue on specific matters.

(LAUGHTER)

Anyhow, you've posed a very acute and very specific question. Why it's acute, because it's on the agenda of our practical interaction, and it's very specific since it has a bearing to very specific matters. And since it's acute and specific, I'll answer as one should in a gentlemen's society in a very general manner. First and foremost, our carriers (ph) in my opinion should be guided primarily guided toward Russian aircraft producers. Why? Because Russian manufacturers, you know, don't have anywhere to sell their products, otherwise -- because they are not let anywhere with a lot of difficulty. They only can sell it domestically. That's the first thing.

And here, we can talk about interaction on the market. Now, the second thing, our carriers, primarily Aeroflot, should be competitive on the market and should have advanced technology in their hands.

Therefore, they both have American planes (ph) today. They also have European air bus -- aircraft.

And the question has been raised currently on additional purchase, on replacement of old equipment with those foreign aircraft. Now, I should say, depending on the decision to be taken by economic structures. This is not a political question, mind you. The economic structures should decide on it.

A lot will depend on it in regards of the state of our political interaction, of course, and our American colleagues' proposal today is a little bit costlier (ph) than the Europeans' proposal.

Had the Americans bought our cheap aluminum steel, then their aircraft would have been cheaper and more competitive, including on our market. So all of this, jointly, has been a subject of our discussions with the president here and our good friend and partner, secretary of commerce and economy, and I think that in the course of normalization of trade and commerce relations, all of these issues will be addressed in a most mutually advantageous manner.

QUESTION: I'd like to ask each of you about this issue of Iran and proliferation.

President Bush, your State Department calls Iran the world's single, biggest state sponsor of terrorism. I wonder, because of that, if these Russian sales that you object to continue, does this new strategic relationship your discussing today bump up against what you outlined in your speech to Congress when you said, "In the war against terrorism, you're either with the United States or against the United States"?

And President Putin, the Bush team says that your sales of nuclear technology and sophisticated military technology to Iran are the world's single, biggest proliferation problem right now. Do you agree with that assessment? And did you make any specific promises today in your meeting with President Bush?

BUSH: Well, first, we spent a lot of time on this subject. And as I said yesterday in Germany, I worry about Iran, and I'm confident Vladimir Putin worries about Iran, and that was confirmed today.

He understands terrorist threats, just like we understand terrorist threats. And he understands, you know, that weapons of mass destruction are dangerous as to Russia just as they are to America. He can explain that for himself, of course, now that he's standing here.

But we spoke very frankly and honestly about the need to make sure that a nontransparent government run by radical clerics doesn't get their hands on weapons of mass destruction. It could be harmful to us and harmful to Russia.

And the president can speak for himself. He gave me some assurances that I think will be very comforting for you to listen to, and I'm confident we can work together on this issue. This is in both our countries' mutual interests that we solve this problem.

PUTIN (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): I want (ph) to confirm what Mr. Bush has just said, and I agree with your evaluation of threats in this regard. Generally speaking, I believe that the problem of nonproliferation is one of the key problems as regards ensuring international security.

Incidentally, this happens to be one of the main motivating and underpinning logical stimulus to work in a Russia-NATO framework together on nonproliferation on nuclear arms. At the same time, I'd like to point out that cooperation between Iran and Russia is not of a character which would undermine the process of nonproliferation. Our cooperation is exclusively as regards energy sector, focused on the problems of economic nature.

I'd like to point out also that the U.S. has taken a commitment upon themselves to build a similar nuclear power plan in North Korea, similar to (inaudible), and in addition to Iran, I think we also need to think about other countries here.

For example, we have some questions concerning development of missile programs in Taiwan, in some other countries. We've been witnessing active work of producing mass destruction weapons and their carriers. All of that should be a subject of in depth discussion both bilaterally and in the frameworks of NATO-Russia agreement. That's one of the key issues of the modern times I believe.

It would seem to me that in order to be efficient in this sense, like in other areas, we need to address the main task: to upgrade confidence mutually. And today, I mentioned to President Bush here that, as regards Iran and some other countries, according to our data, the missile programs of those countries, nuclear programs, are built largely on the basis of the technologies and with the support of the Western companies. We do have such info, and we stand ready to share it with our American partners.

So if we pursued that way -- not dealing with generalities -- then we'll get results with respect to this very complicated and very important for our two countries track.

And the conclusive question (inaudible)

QUESTION (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): To what degree the new treaty will guarantee the real nuclear parity between Russia and the U.S. in new conditions? And in what conditions...

PUTIN (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Could you change the mike, please? Could you repeat what you said?

QUESTION (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): To what extent the treaty ensures the real nuclear parity, and are there conditions that the treaty can be terminated by either side? And how, too, is the fact that Russia still remains as one of the nuclear targets for nuclear forces? And how does that relate to the announced new strategic relations between our two countries?

BUSH: First of all, it is a treaty. This document is a treaty that'll be confirmed by the United States Senate and the Duma, hopefully.

Secondly, treaties have always had outs. There's nothing new about that, and there's conditions at which things may change and people get out of treaties. That's the way it's been. The Anti- Ballistic Missile Treaty had an out. There's nothing new about that.

And thirdly, you know, we are going to work to end the -- forever end the Cold War, and it begins with the statement that Russia's our friend, not our enemy. And you say "targeting," I mean, the idea of, you know, our weaponry or our military has no aims at Russia.

There may be old vestiges in place, but Russia's not an enemy. We don't think about how to deal with Russia the way they used to. Russia's a friend, and that's the new thinking. That's part of what's being codified today.

PUTIN (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): The relationship of sorts -- the way of military potentials and nuclear potential and so on so forth, each state would have its own strategy of development, of what's referred to as nuclear design forces.

But I'd like to assure you that all the action undertaken by us in this area fully conform with the interests of the Russian Federation. The documents signed today are a result of joint efforts of the minister of defense and general chief of staff and our minister of foreign affairs and, of course, jointly with our American colleagues.

And we proceed from the assumption we have today, and we try to focus the status of affairs in the world for a lengthy period of time -- I would like to point out again for a lengthy perspective.

Now, as regards the question of verification and control, perhaps, I'd like to point out that we're very much satisfied with the U.S. administration approach to this question. Our American partners have agreed that we need to retain START I, which is provided for by the system of verification.

PUTIN (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): We agreed we will continue this work on the basis of the documents signed today as well.

And what was the second part of the question, incidentally?

(CROSSTALK) PUTIN (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Regarding those targets that was not for me. I will also make a remark here regarding aiming targets. Mr. Bulgakov (ph), our military first deputy chief of staff is here with us. He and his American counterparts are fully aware of those things, targeting aims and other things involved, and what is the status today of those aimings and targets.

All in our speculations in the press are nothing but expression of domestic political insight, either here or in the U.S., just on the verge of the visit and on Germany. We are not being emotional here. We're not talking to the press. But as experts, we are fully aware of that, and we have no concern whatsoever in this regard.

Thank you.

Thank you for your kind attention and for your participation.

(APPLAUSE)

COSTELLO: And as you can see, President Bush and Vladimir Putin wrapping up their joint session, I should say, right now, as people begin to Leave, St. Katharine's Hall. And of course the reason that these two leaders were there were to sign a major nuclear arms reduction treaty,a treaty that slashes U.S. and Russia nuclear forces by about 2/3 over a 10-year period. And Mr. Bush calls the pact the most dramatic nuclear arms reductions in history.

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