Report: Yeltsin Writes Clinton
Nov. 07, 1997
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Russian President Boris Yeltsin, in a letter to President Clinton, indicated that Moscow had anti-satellite weapons and condemned U.S. efforts to develop such a program, The Washington Times reported today.
``We are alarmed at the U.S. military's intention to develop a whole gamut of anti-satellite weapons systems,'' according to the newspaper, which said it obtained a copy of the six-page letter.
``At one time we possessed an anti-satellite capability. We renounced it as soon as we realized the futility (of) a first-strike notion.''
White House spokesman Michael McCurry would not go into details about the letter, saying such correspondence is classified.
In the copy of the letter, labeled ``unofficial translation,'' Yeltsin proposed a new round of U.S.-Russian talks to curb anti-satellite weapons.
But, he added, ``we should not allow the development of new military technologies that can undermine strategic stability.''
Yeltsin's letter was in response to a letter Sept. 8 from Clinton, the newspaper said.
Last month, the Pentagon fired a laser at an orbiting Air Force satellite. Neither the satellite nor its target point _ an infrared camera _ was damaged or disabled in the several test firings lasting less than five seconds each.
But the Pentagon viewed the test as proof that its own satellites, as well as intelligence, civilian or commercial satellites, are vulnerable to laser weapons.
The Russian government, which was informed of the test, previously had expressed concerns about the testing as a potential threat to Russian satellites.
Yeltsin, in the letter, said the ``obvious aim'' of the U.S. anti-satellite weapon program is to ``destroy (the) space surveillance and control systems of other countries, including, of course, the Russian ones. Within our military doctrine there is no place for such systems, which constitute an absolutely destabilizing factor.''
A U.S. defense official quoted by the newspaper said Yeltsin's letter was typical of Moscow's past approach to arms control.
``They want new talks to limit our anti-satellite capabilities, while they already have the world's only system,'' the official said.