THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
Statement by the President On Advancing U.S. Relations with Russia and the other New Independent States
Since my summit in Vancouver with Russian President Boris Yeltsin, I have pursued a number of measures to implement our policy of economic and strategic partnership between our two countries. These reflect my conviction that the movement toward political and economic reform in Russia and the other new states of the former Soviet Union is the greatest security challenge of our day, and can fuel our own future prosperity as well.
It is time to put our relations with Russia and the other states on a new footing. As an important step in that process, we need to update the accumulated Cold War vestiges that remain in U.S. laws and practices. Our statutes and regulations are filled with restrictions on a communist Soviet Union, a nation that no longer exists. Many of those provisions needlessly impede our relations with the democratic states that replaced the Soviet Union.
Many in Congress have already taken the lead on re-examining these provisions. Today, I have asked Ambassador-at-large Strobe Talbott to coordinate our Executive review of these laws and statutes on an expedited basis, with the goal of revising or removing them where appropriate and consistent with our security and other national interests. Related to this process, our Administration will also begin a thorough review, working with our allies, of how to re-orient export controls on sensitive technology. I ask the bi-partisan leaders in Congress to work with us to coordinate and expedite these reviews.
Today I am also announcing steps to help build a new security partnership with Russia and the other states. We will accelerate the deactivation of nuclear weapons systems already scheduled for elimination under the START I Treaty, while working to accelerate dismantlement in Russia and the three other states with nuclear weapons on their territory. We are beginning a comprehensive review of measures that could enhance strategic stability, including the possibility of each side reprogramming its nuclear missiles so they are not routinely aimed at each other. And we will be starting a consultative process within the next two months with Russia, our allies, and other states, aimed at commencing negotiations toward a multilateral nuclear test ban.
Finally, we are continuing our efforts to strike a partnership with political and economic reformers throughout Russia and the other states. We are continuing work with our G-7 partners to assemble the package of multilateral assistance that Secretaries Bentsen and Christopher recently negotiated in Tokyo. And I am continuing consultation with Congress over the further efforts our own nation will take to assist Russia's reforms.
The hardest work of reform must be done by the people of Russia and the other states themselves, and we applaud the courageous steps they have taken. Yet we dare not miss opportunities to do what we can to bolster their processes of democratization and economic liberalization. The steps I am announcing today will advance those objectives.