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No plans to unilaterally freeze nuclear warhead stockpile, senior Russian diplomat says

According to Sergei Ryabkov, Russia and US should agree on the subject of a future treaty and find common ground

MOSCOW, October 23. /TASS/. Russia has no plans to unilaterally freeze its stockpile of nuclear warheads in order to encourage the US to extend the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told TASS.

"We are not ready to do it. Why should we?" he said in response to a question. "They [the Americans] are announcing huge programs aimed at advancing their nuclear capabilities and in such a situation, we can’t do such a thing," he added. "For reasons that I can’t understand, they have forgotten that a treaty is based on compromise and steps to meet each other halfway," the senior Russian diplomat noted. "For some reason, they believe that it is us that will have to make steps to meet them halfway but it’s not going to happen," he said.

According to Ryabkov, the parties should agree on the subject of a future treaty and find common ground. "And after that, a verification mechanism can be developed," he stressed. "Otherwise, we have enough resources and opportunities to ensure our own security, which is what the Russian president made it clear today," the Russian deputy foreign minister emphasized.

The United States is clearly not willing to extend New START despite all of its bold statements, Ryabkov noted.

"We are ready to make agreements [on extending New START] provided that the Americans don’t advance their add-ons and impose things on us," he pointed out. "This is what is happening at the moment. I get the impression that they are unwilling to make an agreement on extending New START, despite of what Washington officials have been saying recently," Ryabkov added.

When asked if the Russian and US envoys on strategic stability could hold a face-to-face meeting, the Russian deputy foreign minister stressed that "there is no subject for such a meeting at the moment." "However, if Washington accepts the scheme that the Russian Foreign Ministry put forward in a statement on October 20 and refrains from changing it in its favor, as soon as I hear that the US is willing to do it, I promise you that I won’t go home, I will buy an airline ticket to go to a place I will be told, in order to formalize an agreement," the senior Russian diplomat noted.

Additional demands

Moscow has no intention of fulfilling Washington’s additional demands concerning the extension of New START, Ryabkov told TASS.

"We are willing to extend the treaty for a year, like the president said, and we are ready to freeze our nuclear warhead stockpile. However, we are unwilling and will not fulfill the United States’ additional demands. They [the Americans] haven’t withdrawn these demands, unfortunately, so we cannot make an agreement on this basis," Ryabkov pointed out.

According to the senior Russian diplomat, it would be logical for Moscow and Washington to make a decision to extend New START right now in order to gain time for consultations on other issues related to the treaty. "If there is political will, technical problems can solved, but there is little time left. And it would be logical from any standpoint to make a decision to extend the treaty right now and tackle other issues later, knowing that we have time," the Russian deputy foreign minister emphasized.