The head of Russia's Strategic Missile Forces said Moscow should speedily approve the START 2 nuclear arms treaty and dismissed fears among Russian lawmakers that the United States was set to violate an earlier pact.

In an interview published in Thursday's Noviye Izvestia newspaper, Commander-in-Chief Vladimir Yakovlev also called for a comprehensive global strategic stability treaty binding on official and unofficial nuclear states alike."The level fixed by START 2 (3,000-3,500 warheads) is safe, and even a considerably lower level would be safe, for example, 1,500 warheads," he said, adding that the reductions would mean big savings for Russia's tightly stretched budget.

The 1993 START 2 treaty, which would cut U.S. and Russian-deployed nuclear warheads from about 6,000 each to no more than 3,500 each, has been ratified by Washington but has hit a snag in Russia's lower house of parliament.

Some deputies say the United States is developing weapons that could violate the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.

But Yakovlev, who took up his post when his predecessor Igor Sergeyev became defense minister a year ago, was nonplussed.

"At present, each side adheres to the 1972 ABM Treaty within the framework of our mutual agreements under START 1 and START 2," he said.