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Russia will not deploy nuclear weapons abroad — ministry

September 23, 11:57 UTC+3 MOSCOW
Russia, US reduce nuclear arsenals to level of late 1950s, the Foreign Ministry says
1 pages in this article
© Grigoriy Sysoev/TASS

MOSCOW, September 23. /TASS/. Russia will not deploy nuclear weapons outside its borders and all arsenals will remain in its national territory, the director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s non-proliferation and weapons control department, Mikhail Ulyanov, told a news conference on Friday.

"Russia removed all of its nuclear weapons from foreign territories back in 1989-1990," he said. "All of our weapons, including tactical ones, remain exclusively in our national territory. We have no plans for deploying them elsewhere."

"I believe that this is a decent position," he remarked.

"As far as the United States is concerned, the situation looks totally different. The bombs are far away from the US, across the ocean," Ulyanov said. "Moreover, these bombs peg a number of non-nuclear countries, where the bombs are kept - the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, Italy and Turkey - to the nuclear potential of the United States and NATO. This grossly violates the first two articles of the Non-Proliferation Treaty that prohibit placing nuclear weapons under the control of non-nuclear states."

Russia, US reduce nuclear arsenals 

The diplomat went on to say that Russia and the United States have reduced their nuclear arsenals to the level of the late 1950s.

"We systematically comply with our liabilities under the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Russia and the United States have been steadily reducing their nuclear arsenals," Ulyanov said. "We’ve cut our nuclear weapons by 80% since the Cold War peak. We stopped the nuclear arms race. The Russian and US arsenals are now where they were in the late 1950s of early 1960s."

The diplomat said neither Russia nor other nuclear powers will take part in the talks on banning nuclear weapons.

"We share the goal of building a nuclear-free world, but the issue is how to move towards this aim. One path of taking a decision on banning nuclear weapons instantly is risky. The other one is more real - that’s a step-by-step process towards this goal," Ulyanov said.

The Russian side is guided by the agreements reached as part of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the diplomat reminded. "These agreements envisage gradually moving towards building a nuclear-free world. This movement should be done so that strategic stability and equal security for all are maintained in the world," he said.

"We are fully committed to this thesis. We believe that an attempt to bury it in oblivion or revise it is counterproductive," Ulyanov stressed. "It is evident that neither Russia nor other nuclear powers will participate in the negotiations on banning nuclear weapons," he added.

The diplomat said the US, unlike Russia, cannot explain its claims regarding the Treaty on Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF Treaty).

"Our contacts on the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty are public," he said in response to a question from TASS. "As to me, this dialogue does not make a strong impression, the U.S. is unable to explain its claims regarding the INF Treaty."

"Time after time they are saying: We know you are to blame and you know you are to blame and you should repent." But there are no talks without details," the diplomat continued. "As for our claims, they have good reasons, and we present them in writing on dozens of pages, all the claims are backed with detailed and major facts."

Contacts continue, he said, for as long as they are rational. "In our opinion, combat drones are violation of the Treaty, and the U.S. is working on them and uses in military operations," the diplomat added.

Unilateral disarmament impossible

Russia believes it is impossible to go ahead with nuclear disarmament in the unilateral format, Ulyanov added.  

"Going ahead with nuclear disarmament in the unilateral format at a time when Russia has already cut its strategic nuclear potential by approximately 85% is impossible," Ulyanov said.

"That we’ve turned a blind eye on this so far was a gesture of good will," he said. "But now, that we have reduced the potential to very low levels, it is no longer possible to proceed in the same fashion."

"While France distances itself to a certain extent form the common NATO potential, Britain is a member of NATO’s Nuclear Planning Group," Ulyanov said. "To put it in a nutshell, we can no longer afford to ignore this."

Moscow hopes for consensus with Washington 

The diplomat said Moscow hopes for consensus with a new US Administration in disarmament.

"On September 16, was over a conference on disarmament for 2016, and a new session of 2017 will open in January," the diplomat said. "Our suggestions are still on the table."

"We hope the new US Administration, be those Republicans or Democrats, will be able to look unbiasedly at our suggestions (in disarmament) and will be able to review its approach," he said.

"If this should happen, then I think we will achieve a complete consensus in merely a few weeks and this dialogue could begin," the diplomat stated. "If the Americans continue to thwart (Russia’s) proposals without giving a convincing explanation for their objections, then the Conference on Disarmament grants us the right to start negotiations without their consent," Ulyanov noted. "But frankly speaking, in this case an opportunity will be lost."

"Oddly enough, US President Barack Obama began his presidency with promises to ensure considerable progress in nuclear disarmament only to launch fundamental upgrade of these forces," Ulyanov said. "Upgrades are being carried out not with the aim of eventually eliminating these weapons and building a nuclear-weapons-free world. These weapons are designed to last till the 2080s."

He warned that smart nuclear bombs lowered the threshold of using them and increased the temptation to take advantage of their parameters.

"There’ve been statements that these bombs will be ‘more ethical’," Ulyanov said. "This is a highly debatable argument and it invites a harsh response. This is a matter of the near future. New multi-purpose bombs will go operational in 2020. This will be no means enhance European security," he warned.

Full ban of nuclear weapons unrealistic

According to the diplomat, Moscow considers unrealistic the initiative concerning a conference on an international convention on full banning of nuclear weapons.

The diplomat said, the 71st session of the UN General Assembly had adopted a report "containing recommendations to organize talks on an international convention on full banning of nuclear weapons." This session, he continued, may initiate a joint resolution draft. "Then, will begin a major fight and a rather tough discussion."

"We consider this initiative absolutely far from reality, and, in fact, even harmful," the diplomat said.

START extending

Deputy Director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Non-Proliferation and Arms Control Department Vladimir Leontyev said further steps after implementing the New START Treaty signed by Russia and the United States in 2010 must take into account the factor of third countries.

"While the nuclear arsenals of Russia and the US are reduced, the total potential of third countries is becoming a rather comparable figure. We believe that further steps after implementing the New START Treaty should take into account the factor of third countries," the diplomat said.  Two out of five official nuclear powers (the US, France, the UK, China and Russia) are political and military allies of the US and cooperate closely with it in the nuclear sphere, he added.

"We call on all the countries possessing nuclear potential to have a substantive dialogue on this. But we don’t see that they have any enthusiasm here," he said.

The diplomat went on to say that speaking about an extension of the START is too early. 

"Under the treaty, it can be extended for another five years, but should be discuss it now?" he said. "Probably, not yet. As of now, we have not made to the levels, which will be possible in February 2017. And, besides, those levels are not limited to the treaty."

The official expressed confidence Moscow would observe the conditions and Russia "will reach those levels in due time."

"Even when all those figures are reached, all the remaining provisions will also continue being in force: there will be mechanisms of verification, will be inspections, and exchange of notifications," he said. There is no necessity in "dropping everything now to begin working on a new agreement."

"At first, we should fulfil the one we have," he said.

Unfavorable tendencies

The diplomat said the tendencies in the global strategic situation "are rather unfavorable for the agreements of the kind." Among the factors, which affect future possible agreements in the sphere he named the situation in the anti-missile defense, in the sphere of conventional arms, including high-precision arms, the situation with the agreement on banning nuclear tests, which still has not come into force.

"There are many factors, and they all will be considered as the issue of possible further actions are discussed," the diplomat added.

He said, it took about a year to draft the agreement, thus there is still time enough to offer a new document if the decision is made.

The New START Treaty was signed by the Russian and US presidents in Prague on April 8, 2010 and took effect after its ratification by the Russian State Duma and the US Congress on February 5, 2011. Under the treaty, the signatories reduce their deployed intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine-launched ballistic missiles, and heavy bombers equipped for nuclear arms down to 700 and their nuclear warheads down to 1,550. The treaty will remain in force for a total of 10 years.

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