BANGKOK, Thailand -- President Boris Yeltsin's outburst about Russian nuclear power during his visit to Beijing was unnecessary, uncalled-for and unhelpful. It remains unclear just what point the Russian leader was trying to make. He was clearly irritated by several days of criticism from just about the whole world over his Chechnya policy. But that just adds to the concern over Yeltsin's disturbing remark.
Reminded that "my friend Bill" Clinton was among the critics, Yeltsin bristled. Clinton might be forgetting that "Russia is a great power that possesses a full nuclear arsenal," said the Russian leader. . . . In an often unstable world, neither jokes nor offhanded comments about nuclear weapons are acceptable. Yeltsin is already viewed by some as an unstable leader. He and his government should act to dispel that idea.