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US claims of Russia’s alleged readiness to freeze nuclear arsenals unscrupulous — Lavrov

The top diplomat pointed out that Washington would like to count all nuclear warheads but, most importantly, leaves means of their delivery outside the talks
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov Press service of the Russian Foreign Ministry/TASS
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov
© Press service of the Russian Foreign Ministry/TASS

MOSCOW, October 14. /TASS/. Claims made by US Presidential Envoy for Arms Control Marshall Billingslea regarding the alleged Russian readiness to freeze the nuclear arsenals are unscrupulous, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in his interview for Russian media Wednesday.

"Recently, the [US] envoy stated that, hey, Russia supported us, we [the US] approach an agreement ahead of the presidential election in the US to freeze all nuclear warheads and Russia is keen on China joining it. Listen, this is unscrupulous," Lavrov said.

He pointed out that the US would like to count all nuclear warheads and return to strict verification measures as well as to force Russia to persuade China to join the talks, before the agreement is reached.

"We have always considered and continue to consider that an agreement on strategic stability must be based on the consideration of interests of all negotiating sides, on an analysis of threats that the other side presents to your country and on a search for a compromise that will take interests of - and, therefore, real threats to - all sides into account. This, first of all, implies means of delivery of nuclear warheads to each other’s territories," Lavrov said.

According to the foreign minister, the US has "turned everything upside down" and wants to leave means of delivery outside the talks, because "it has obtained a lot of means that are not subject to talks." At the same time, Russia is ready to include two new strategic weapons in the treaty out of the five developed recently, the top diplomat said.

The US decided not to include militarization of space in the talks, "although, officially, space, as well as cyberspace, has been added to theaters of war in its doctrines," he noted.

Lavrov pointed out that Russia cannot ignore Washington’s refusal to join the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT).

"Instead of working on specific means of delivery that pose threat to each others’ territories, it [Washington] says: let’s count the warheads. By doing so, it wants to bring the category of non-strategic nuclear weapons, the so-called tactical nuclear weapons, on the table. We’ve always told it: before we include this category in arms control discussions, you are to take all these tactical missiles with tactical warheads to your own territory. It has these tactical nuclear weapons deployed in five NATO countries. Besides, in violation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, it involves NATO countries in drills on use and handling of nuclear weapons," Lavrov pointed out.

New START Treaty

Earlier, Billingslea said that the US is ready to extend the Treaty on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (New START) with Russia, under the condition of freezing of both countries’ nuclear arsenals. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov called this proposal unacceptable.

The New START was signed by Moscow and Washington in 2010. The treaty remains in force until February 5, 2021, unless it is replaced by a new accord. The treaty could be extended for 5 years (until 2026), if both sides agree.

According to the document, both sides vow to reduce their nuclear weapons to 700 deployed launchers, 1,550 warheads and 800 deployed and non-deployed launchers in seven years.