WASHINGTON — President Bush's decision to abandon a major weapons control agreement with Moscow will not spur a new nuclear arms race, Secretary of State Colin Powell says.

But Russian President Vladimir Putin said Bush's announcement Thursday that he will scrap the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty is a mistake. Several senior members of Congress agreed.

Putin's tone was calm and assured in the address that lasted just over three minutes, and he stated clearly that Bush's announcement in Washington earlier Thursday had not come as a surprise.

"It's a mistake to withdraw from a treaty before you have something to replace it with," Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said Thursday after Bush made public his long-anticipated decision. "I would be very concerned that withdrawal from the treaty does fuel an arms race."

Bush said he concluded the treaty "hinders our government's ability to develop ways to protect our people from future terrorist or rogue state missile attacks."

Along with Russia, China and some European allies also had sought to dissuade Bush from abandoning the treaty.

Bush notified Chinese President Jiang Zemin before announcing the decision and Powell talked to Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan and Ambassador Yang Jiechi.

A senior administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Bush offered Jiang strategic talks among their advisers. Jiang agreed, but U.S. officials said they did not know how substantial the talks would be.

In Beijing, the state media said Jiang urged Bush to preserve the international arms-control system.

The Chinese leader spoke with both Bush and Putin and "stressed that under current circumstances, preserving the international arms control and disarmament system is extremely important," the Xinhua News Agency said. The United States will quit the treaty in six months and during that period do nothing to violate it with missile defense tests outlawed by the Cold War-era pact, a senior U.S. official said. By the spring, the Bush administration will be ready to begin construction of silos and a testing command center for a futuristic and expensive U.S. anti-missile defense shield near Fairbanks, Alaska.

"I don't see the basis for an arms race in anything that we have done," Powell said. "I see a basis for strategic stability."

Powell said Russia had offered to make even sharper cutbacks in its arsenal of long-range nuclear weapons than Putin pledged during his talks in Washington with Bush in November.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld will take up with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov the proposal of a cap of some 1,500 to 2,200 warheads apiece, a reduction of about 60 percent from current levels, Powell said.

Rumsfeld and Ivanov are due to meet in Brussels, Belgium, next week.

Putin, in a nationwide television address, repeated Russia's view that the 1972 treaty was a cornerstone of world security.

"This step was not a surprise for us. However, we consider it a mistake," Putin said. "Now, when the world has confronted new threats, we must not allow a legal vacuum in the sphere of strategic stability."

The administration has ruled out negotiations with Russia on a new arrangement during the six months before the treaty is jettisoned.

Powell said the strong relationship with Russia that the administration has built over the last 11 months "could take this kind of disagreement."

The Russians have come to the conclusion "this action is not intended against them," Powell said. "It will be a system that goes after those irresponsible rogue states that might come up with a couple of missiles and threaten us."

China worries that a U.S. missile defense would undercut the deterrent value of its small nuclear arsenal. Chinese officials have warned that Beijing might respond by building more nuclear missiles or trying to make its existing missiles more accurate.

China is believed to have about two-dozen nuclear missiles capable of reaching U.S. territory.

In a carefully worded statement, Lord Robertson, the secretary-general of the NATO alliance, said NATO "welcomes the pledge of the United States of America to develop a new framework of cooperation with Russia" that includes dramatic reductions in nuclear weapons arsenals.

In Washington, Sen. Jesse Helms, R-N.C., said he doubted the treaty ever served American security interests.

"President Bush's leadership on missile defense and arms control is precisely the same leadership that's winning the war on terrorism," Helms said in a statement.

On the other hand, 21 Democratic members of the House, led by Ellen Tauscher of California and Joseph Hoeffel of Pennsylvania, wrote Bush that there was no compelling reason to withdraw from the treaty now. Doing so, they said, injects "an unnecessary level of uncertainty in our relations with the rest of the world."