Kazakhs Won’t Give Up A-Arms Till Russia Does
President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan said Tuesday that his Central Asian republic will not give up all nuclear weapons stationed there as long as nuclear arms remain in the Russian Federation.
With Secretary of State James A. Baker III standing at his side, Nazarbayev called for total elimination of nuclear weapons--those of the United States, Kazakhstan, “everybody’s.”
Pending total nuclear disarmament, he said he is prepared to put all Soviet nuclear arms under a single military command, which would be responsible to the Council of Presidents of the emerging Commonwealth of Independent States.
But Nazarbayev disagreed with Russian Federation President Boris N. Yeltsin’s assertion, after a meeting with Baker on Monday, that Russia would remain a nuclear power “for the time being” while all weapons in Ukraine, Belarus (formerly Byelorussia) and Kazakhstan would be destroyed.
Speaking of the four republics that now have nuclear weapons, Yeltsin said: “Three of them would eventually become non-nuclear states with the exception, for the time being, of Russia.” But later in the same joint press conference with Baker, Yeltsin admitted that, although Ukraine and Belarus have agreed to the destruction of weapons, negotiations had not yet been held on the issue with Kazakhstan.
Nazarbayev said that weapons would “stay both in Russia and Kazakhstan” until nuclear arms were eliminated everywhere.
Seit-Cazy Matayev, Nazarbayev’s press spokesman, went further. Speaking to American reporters, he said it is “not acceptable” to scrap all nuclear arms in Kazakhstan while weapons remain in Russia.
Nevertheless, Baker said he is satisfied that all nuclear arms in the Soviet arsenal will be kept under effective control of a single military command, even as the union itself continues to disintegrate.
A senior State Department official traveling with Baker told reporters earlier in the day that Yevgeny I. Shaposhnikov, now the Soviet defense minister, “expects to be commander in chief of the defense alliance” to be established by the commonwealth.
The official, recounting Baker’s meeting with Shaposhnikov on Monday, said the defense minister gave “a pretty clear reflection of a military that will not intercede in politics. “He certainly exuded confidence in their control of nuclear weapons, both strategic and tactical,” the official added.
Baker visited Kazakhstan and the neighboring republic of Kyrgyzstan (formerly Kirghizia) on Tuesday as part of a whirlwind tour of the unraveling superpower.
Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan plan to attend a meeting in Alma Ata on Saturday to expand the fledgling commonwealth from its present three members to nine, with the addition of the five Central Asian republics and Armenia. Yeltsin said he expects Moldova to sign up before the month’s end.
Baker visits Belarus and Ukraine--with Russia, the founding members of the commonwealth--today before heading to Brussels for North Atlantic Treaty Organization meetings. He was in Russia on Sunday and Monday.
Baker’s visit to Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan’s capital, was the first ever by a U.S. Cabinet member to the mountainous republic. His travels this week to five republics may be a forerunner of American diplomacy in the post-Soviet world.
Unlike previous years, when he could do all of his business in Moscow, the secretary of state now must deal with all--or at least most--of the 15 republics that once were the Soviet Union.
Asked in Bishkek if he was concerned about the proliferation of independent nations, Baker said he has been meeting with republic leaders off and on for the past 18 months, so, “if that happens, it won’t be all that novel, I suppose.”
Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev said his republic intends to follow an independent foreign policy and will not agree to participate in any sort of unified foreign ministry similar to the military command structure that the new commonwealth envisions. “I think we can have a very active foreign policy,” Akayev told reporters, flashing a wide grin featuring several gold teeth.
Both Akayev and Nazarbayev requested U.S. diplomatic recognition of their independence, and both urged the United States to support their application for U.N. membership. In addition, Akayev endorsed Yeltsin’s demand that Russia take over the current U.N. membership--and the permanent seat on the Security Council--of the Soviet Union.
But Nazarbayev, in perhaps another display of friction between his republic and Russia, said the commonwealth’s Council of Presidents should decide who would get the Security Council seat.
Baker emphasized, as he did earlier in Russia, that Washington is in no hurry to extend diplomatic recognition to the republics. An official said the United States will move first to establish relations with states that are democratic and show respect for human rights.