US-Russian Accord to Prevent Mistaken Firing of Missiles

Published December 16th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

The United States and Russia on Saturday signed a new agreement aimed at preventing inadvertent retaliation in response to a false warning of missile attack. 

"The result will be deeper confidence and greater strategic stability between our two nations which translates into a safer and more secure world," US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said after signing a memorandum of understanding with Russian Foreign Minister Ivan Ivanov. 

The accord, which expands an earlier agreement, aims to reduce nuclear danger by establishing a pre-and post-launch notification system for launches of ballistic missiles and space launch vehicles. 

It also provides for voluntary notification of satellites forced out of orbit, and certain space experiments that could adversely affect the operation of early warning radars. 

Ivanov, who earlier met NATO foreign ministers here, stressed the memorandum aimed at strengthening strategic stability, and expressed the hope that it would eventually lead to a global system of control of ballistic missiles. 

Albright said the US and Russia would invite other nations to join in the new missile and space launch notification system. 

"This reflects the fact that proliferation is a threat to every nation and that contributing to stability is every nation's responsibility," she added. 

The memorandum complements an agreement on sharing early warning information signed last June by President Bill Clinton and Russia's President Vladimir Putin. 

The new system will be located at a Joint Data Exchange Center in Moscow agreed under the Clinton-Putin accord. 

It will greatly expand the numbers and types of launches subject to notification to include shorter-range ballistic missiles, sounding and research rockets and most space launch vehicles. 

US officials said the exchange of data from the new system would strengthen strategic stability by promoting increased mutual confidence and assurance of the peaceful intentions of both sides when ballistic missiles or space launch vehicles were launched. 

It would further reduce the risk of a missile launch resulting from a false warning of ballistic missile attack. 

President Clinton and former President Boris Yeltsin gave the go-ahead for such early information in 1998 when they signed a joint statement on exchange of information on missile launches and early warning to reduce the possibility of inadvertent retaliatory launches due to false warning of a ballistic missile attack -- BRUSSELS (AFP)  



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