No progress in nuke arms reduction unless Russia, US agree on ABM – diplomat

Missile Defense Control Room file photo

(Interfax – August 7, 2013) Further steps towards nuclear arms reduction are impossible unless Russia and the USA come to an agreement on ABM, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov has told Interfax news agency as reported on 7 August.

“The whole of factors affecting strategic stability lead us to conclusion that today there is very few real and serious prospects for further reduction of nuclear arsenals, if not to say they do not exist at all,” Ryabkov was quoted as saying.

He added that a correlation between the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) and missile defence (ABM) is absolutely unquestionable to Russia. “Without agreements on the ABM issue, which would dispel our concerns, further steps towards the nuclear disarmament are impossible,” Ryabkov said, adding that this problem continues to arouse a discord between the two countries and remains a subject of intensive discussions.

He emphasized that apart from the ABM issue, there is plenty of other factors affecting strategic stability. They include arms race in outer space and the problem of non-nuclear warheads placed on strategic carriers. “Unfortunately, we see disagreements, rather than common positions or some constructive compromise, between us and the USA on the majority of these issues. That is a reality and we cannot simply ignore it,” Ryabkov said.

Speaking about Russian-US dialogue on ABM, Ryabkov said that Moscow does not expect any progress in this issue in the near future. “I cannot say that we are at the threshold of a breakthrough or an abrupt change towards the settlement of outstanding difficult issues both in the sphere of ABM and other arms control-related aspects. I do not have grounds for this,” he said.

Asked whether or not the Russian side is satisfied with US proposals on ABM, Ryabkov said that the issue was discussed with US Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Rose Gottemoeller in Brussels on 5 August. “We once again passed a signal that American proposals received last spring are interesting to us. This is a step towards right direction but it is absolutely insufficient to become a basis for a compromise,” he noted. Ryabkov added that US proposals do not contain the key aspect which would make us to be confident that all assurances that the missile defence system being deployed in Europe is not aimed against Russia are true.