Russia offered to separate its nuclear warheads from the missiles that carry them as part of a strategy to prevent an accidental triggering of a nuclear war.
"It is absurd that we have nuclear arsenals when the bell has tolled for the ideologies which made them necessary, and the new Russia is not a potential adversary," Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev said Wednesday during a United Nations-sponsored disarmament conference.With the end of the Cold War, Kozyrev urged the military powers of both the East and West to reassess their entire military strategies, consider placing their strategic arsenals on "zero alert" and possibly join Russia in separating atomic warheads from their missiles to prevent an accidental nuclear attack.
"I understand the concern which the brain-drain of Russian scientists to the West and elsewhere, leading perhaps to the abandonment of certain military nuclear projects in Russia, is causing," the Russian diplomat said.
"Faced with this danger, particularly insofar as the nuclear question is concerned, we will take certain measures to reassure our friends," Kozyrev said.
In Washington, the State Department said it would have no comment in the absence of Secretary of State James Baker, who has been touring the Commonwealth of Independent States. There also was no comment from diplomats representing other nations attending the Geneva disarmament conference.
Kozyrev made his comments on nuclear safeguards during and after the U.N. conference to discuss a possible ban on chemical weapons, which is expected to be in place by the end of the year.
On the subject of chemical weapons, Kozyrev said his nation is in favor of an "eco-policy" in the proposed Convention on Chemical Weapons, which he said should consider the legitimate economic goals of industry while installing a supervisory mechanism to aid in the destruction of chemical weapons.
While chemical weapons plants should be destroyed, many of them can be converted to peaceful uses, the Russian diplomat said.
Kozyrev said Russia has inherited from the former Soviet Union some 40,000 metric tons of chemical weapons and their destruction will be extremely difficult, since plants must be constructed to handle their disposal without causing environmental pollution.
International assistance to bring this about will play a determining role in the destruction of the chemical weapons, he said.