Moscow is not ready for a new round of nuclear arms reduction and sees no chances of reaching a compromise with Washington on U.S. plans for a missile shield in Europe, the head of the Russian presidential administration and former defense minister Sergei Ivanov told “Komsomolskaya Pravda”.
In his interview with the daily Mr. Ivanov said that the anti-missile defense system as we know it now evokes many questions. The real structure of the U.S. anti-missile shield in Europe does not appear to respond to potential threats coming from North Korea and Iran. This affects Russia’s strategic nuclear forces and undermines the balance of forces. In this case Moscow can’t afford a new round of nuclear arms reduction as the U.S. currently outnumbers Russia in nuclear weapons.
Mr. Ivanov`s words could be viewed as Russia’s first response to the recent proposal made by the White House to continue nuclear arms reduction. The U.S. Department of State’s Assistant Secretary for Arms Control, Rose Gottemoeller, informed the Russian side on the issue during her visit to Moscow on February 14. Although no official statements were made concerning Barack Obama`s new initiatives, some media reports said that Washington suggested reducing the two countries` strategic nuclear arsenals by one-third. As of today, the U.S. has 1,700 warheads. Under the START III treaty their number should be reduced to 1,550 by 2018. But what Mr. Obama reportedly suggests now is to seek reduction to 1,000 warheads.
Retired Lieutenant-General, military expert Evgeny Buzhinsky shares Mr. Ivanov`s point of view: “Offensive and defensive strategic arms are closely linked. In the late 1960s the U.S. put forward an initiative to sign a deal on anti-missile defense before negotiating strategic arms reduction. We accepted it. The deal was valid for 30 years and everything seemed fine. But now Americans have undermined the balance: they seek reduction of general offensive arsenals but at the same time want to boost their own defensive potential. How can Russia agree to reduce its arms now?”
Mr. Ivanov implied that Washington’s position is not sincere and cannot be taken seriously. Russia has recently completed the modernization of its strategic nuclear forces, while it’s been long since the U.S. did so last. “There is no reason for Russia to join a new round of arms reduction”, Ivanov said.
Moscow insists that apart from the missile defense issue the agenda of the nuclear arms reduction talks with the U.S. should also feature tactical nuclear weapons, conventional arms as well as nuclear arsenals in other countries, at least in Great Britain and France, although China, India and Pakistan possess nuclear weapons, too.
Russian experts think that it will be difficult to attract other countries to join the talks on nuclear arms control. Piotr Topychkanov, a weapons expert at the Center for International Security Studies, commented on the issue in an interview with the VoR: “President Putin has repeatedly urged other countries if not to reduce their nuclear arms supplies but at least to support the idea of multilateral control over them. But Beijing, London, Paris, Delhi, and Islamabad see this as an untimely measure. They say: we are ready to discuss nuclear disarmament but first you should reduce the number of your warheads to that reported by our countries.”
What Sergei Ivanov said in the interview does not mean that Moscow rejects the talks with Washington. In disarmament talks Russia expects the U.S. to take its interests into consideration.
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