“We have never tried to avoid a (meaningful) discussion. This is not our rule,” Mikhail Ulyanov, the head of the Russian Foreign Ministry department for non-proliferation and weapons control, told ITAR-TASS.
“For a very long time, we have been posing serious questions to our American colleagues but we have not received any answers. Now, we have agreed that they will pay a visit to us to discuss our reciprocal concerns,” Ulyanov said.
“We used to have a special commission to oversee how the INF treaty was implemented and to deal with claims appearing on both sides. But the commission ceased to work as early as 2003 because the treaty was de facto implemented. All verification procedures were over in 2001,” Ulyanov explained.
The forthcoming specialized consultations will be the first after this long break. Russia has destroyed all weapons under the INF treaty but it is, nevertheless, ready to listen to US claims if the Americans have anything concrete.
In July this year, the US government accused Russia of violating the INF provisions. The US State Department reflected that conclusion in its annual report on implementation of disarmament treaties. Washington claimed that Russia had breached its commitment not to produce and test a ground-based cruise missile with a range from 500 to 5,500 kilometers or not to possess or produce launchers for this type of missiles. But apart from incoherent references to some secrete intelligence data, the United States has so far failed to give any concrete fact of violation.
According to Ulyanov, Russia has much more serious and justified claims to the United States caused by its free interpretation of the INF provisions. In a recent comment, the Russian Foreign Ministry expressed serious concern with the fact that the United States test launched target missiles, which have similar characteristics as intermediate-range missiles, during its air defense exercises.
“Questions related to the Mk-41 missile launchers which the United States is planning to deploy in Poland and Romania have become particularly urgent in recent days. These launchers can be used to launch medium-range cruise missiles and their appearance on the surface will be a gross violation of the INF Treaty,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty was signed by the Soviet Union and the United States on December 8, 1987. In line with the treaty obligations the Soviet Union scrapped a total of 1,752 missiles and 845 missile launching systems, three facilities manufacturing missiles and launching systems and 69 operational missile bases. The United States in turn eliminated a total of 859 missiles and 283 missile launching systems, seven facilities manufacturing missiles and launching systems and 9 operational missile bases.