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Kazakhs Ratify Non-Proliferation Treaty : Weapons: Parliament vote comes during visit by Gore, who immediately pledges aid for destruction of nuclear arsenal.

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TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Kazakh Parliament on Monday overwhelmingly ratified the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and hours later Vice President Al Gore announced that the United States will provide $84 million to assist in the destruction of Kazakhstan’s nuclear arsenal.

The action by the Kazakh Supreme Soviet followed a debate between reformers and former Communists over the future of the missiles, which conservatives see as a symbol of sovereignty.

Ratification of the treaty was the last action Washington was awaiting before releasing the money, part of a $1.2-billion fund authorized by the U.S. Congress for the elimination of the nuclear weapons of the former Soviet Union.

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Although ratification of the treaty was expected before the year’s end, it came in a bit of fast-paced drama, as President Nursultan Nazarbayev left a meeting with Gore to deliver an impassioned plea to his Parliament to ratify the pact while the vice president was in the capital.

A bitter debate ensued. But when it was clear that Nazarbayev had the votes to secure ratification, the vast majority of deputies went along. One lawmaker said the vote was 238-1, but a U.S. official said the sentiment was far more divided than the final tally indicated.

“This decision today on the non-proliferation treaty . . . signals a unique role for Kazakhstan in promoting world peace and creating the conditions for economic development in Central Asia and the other newly independent states,” Gore said at a joint news conference with Nazarbayev.

Gore also announced a number of assistance programs for Kazakhstan, including a bilateral investment treaty, insurance guarantees for $43 million in oil development and a new Central Asia Enterprise Fund to provide $120 million for small-business development over the next three years.

Gore pointedly noted that the U.S. economic aid will flow directly from Kazakhstan’s agreement to renounce its nuclear weapons. In an unsubtle goad to Ukraine to follow suit, Gore said, “I hope the obvious developments in this bilateral relationship (with Kazakhstan) on a full range of other issues will be accurately observed by all observers around the world.”

Russia and Belarus, the other two nuclear states of the former Soviet Union, have already ratified the treaty and have received large infusions of U.S. aid. Ukraine has been warned that it should not expect substantial U.S. assistance until it ratifies the treaty.

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Further rewards for Belarus and Kazakhstan will come in a January visit by President Clinton to Belarus and in an invitation to Nazarbayev to visit Washington in February.

Kazakhstan’s nuclear arsenal consists of 100 long-range SS-18 missiles and about 1,400 warheads, plus an uncertain number of long-range, nuclear-capable bombers.

Under the agreement signed Monday plus previous commitments, Kazakhstan will return the warheads to Russia for dismantling and will destroy the launch silos within Kazakh borders.

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