Minister Cowen welcomes ratification of the START II Treaty
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Brian Cowen T.D., today welcomed the ratification of the START II Treaty in the Russian Duma. "This is a very significant step by the Russian Federation", he said, "the implementation of which will result in a considerable reduction in the number of US and Russian strategic nuclear weapons".
The Minister also expressed the hope that the US would finalise its ratification procedures as soon as possible so that implementation can proceed.
News of the ratification comes at a significant juncture, on the eve of a crucial conference reviewing the implementation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). "I hope that this will help to break the log-jam in bilateral arms reductions, and lay a foundation for further reductions", said the Minister.
"I urge the US and the Russian Federation to accelerate their efforts to commence negotiations on START III leading to additional reductions in their nuclear arsenals at an early date", he said.
The Minister will lead the Irish delegation to the NPT Conference which will open in New York on 24 April for four weeks. The Conference will consider efforts to implement the purposes and provisions of the Treaty and will consider further implementing steps for the coming years.
Note for the information of editors
The START (Strategic Arms Reduction Talks) Treaties are bilateral US-Russia treaties which deal with strategic nuclear weapons. The first START Treaty cut the number of nuclear warheads to 6,000 each. START II, which was signed in 1993, will see cuts to between 3,000 and 3,500 warheads each, and also outlaws missiles capable of delivering multiple nuclear warheads. It is hoped that negotiations on a START III Treaty will see further reductions in their respective nuclear arsenals.
The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) is the cornerstone of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. Negotiated on foot of a series of Irish resolutions in the UN General Assembly beginning in 1959, the Treaty was concluded in 1968 and entered into force in 1970 Since then, the number adherents to it has grown steadily, to the point where it is virtually universal with 187 States Party. Initially concluded for 25 years, the 1995 Review and Extension Conference decided to extend the Treaty's validity indefinitely.