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Talking points for the statement by Deputy Minister of Defense of the Russian Federation Anatoly Antonov at the panel discussion «Next steps in Nuclear disarmament.Where do we go from here?»(Geneva, 24 April 2013)

Prospects of Dialogue on the Reduction of Nuclear Weapons

On 22 April a detailed discussion of new security challenges in the modern world of transitions took place at the plenary session of this Forum. Over recent years I had numerous occasions to speak on the future of nuclear disarmament. Time after time I had to argue the point made by some experts that Russia and the U.S. should continue reducing its nuclear arsenals under any circumstances.

Let me put forward a few fundamental considerations which in my view will help to develop further discussion.

My basic assumption is that any further steps in the field of nuclear disarmament must be based on the principle of indivisible security. It is unacceptable to strengthen one’s own security at the expense of others.

It is true that Russia and the U.S. possess the largest nuclear arsenals. Being permanent members of the UN Security Council our countries share special responsibility for maintaining peace and strengthening strategic stability. It is no coincidence that the main results in the field of disarmament have been achieved by Russia and the U.S.

The New START Treaty, whose third anniversary we all marked recently, is a major contribution of our states to strengthening global security and non-proliferation regime as well as to implementing our obligations under the NPT. Today we can say that the Treaty is functioning. The cuts are of irreversible, verifiable and transparent nature. I fully agree with the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who in his article "Time to Face Facts" of April 8 noted: “The inspection teams are steadily confirming that the treaty's verification regime works. Accurate and timely knowledge of each other's nuclear forces dampens the risks of misunderstanding, mistrust, and worst-case analysis and decision-making. Such mutual confidence and predictability are crucial to international stability”.

In 2010 the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia Sergey Lavrov called this Treaty a “gold standard” of achieving agreements in the area of disarmament and strategic security.

The main task for Russia and the U.S. is to fulfill their obligations under the Treaty in an honest and effective way. Today we manage to do that and are satisfied with the level of our interaction.

Missile defense is a major irritant in Russia’s relations with the U.S. and NATO countries. We have repeatedly stressed and our American partners supported us in the text of the New START Treaty that with the progress of nuclear disarmament the link between strategic offensive arms and missile defense will be growing.

Our current dialogue with the U.S. and NATO on missile defense is stuck. Even the new decisions of the U.S. in this area came to our knowledge through mass media. I wish to hope that during my meeting with the U.S. Under Secretary of Defense James Miller to be held on 30 April in Brussels we will be able to get the specifics of what the Americans are planning to do in the future. I have a few simple questions to ask. How to reach predictability with regard to the U.S. plans on missile defense? How to get guarantees – solid and reliable – that the U.S. missile defense will not undercut Russian nuclear capability? Much hard work lies ahead.

It is necessary to tackle the issue of non-nuclear armed strategic offensive weapons. These weapons affect the balance of strategic forces as they are capable of hitting strategic military targets and facilities of state administration. In this case the impact of such weapons on the strategic balance will only be increasing as the reductions of strategic offensive arms move forward. For example, precision-guided munitions not being subject to any quantitative, qualitative or territorial limitations and at the same time very well disguised in terms of their targets (for example, under the guise of counterterrorism) are also weapons and can be used to hit strategic facilities. Moreover, taking into account their minimal time and high-precision of delivery these weapons ensure sudden strikes and substantially decrease the possibility of retaliatory actions. The recent Global Zero report, co-authored, incidentally, by the current U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, directly refers to such a tendency in the U.S. new integrated strategy.

Nowadays there is much talk about nonstrategic nuclear weapons. There are political and military-technical differences. For instance, due to the geostrategic position of Russia these weapons play a greater role for us than for the U.S. It is crucially important that Russian nonstrategic nuclear weapons are located on the territory of Russia, withdrawn from the troops and stationed in special storage facilities. That is why these weapons do not pose any threat to the U.S.

The U.S., to the contrary, has stocks of such weapons in Europe in the immediate proximity to Russia’s borders. Essentially, these weapons are strategic as they are capable of hitting strategic facilities on the Russian territory.

In this context Russia’s demands for withdrawal by the U.S. of its nonstrategic nuclear arsenals from Europe to its national territory as well as removal of the relevant military-technical infrastructure in the European non-nuclear NATO countries make sense.

There arises a question on the need to engage other nuclear-weapon states in a possible dialogue on nonstrategic nuclear weapons. Without taking their capabilities into consideration any serious arrangements are unlikely to happen.

Militarization of outer space is a dangerous trend which has been evident recently. Russia’s proposals for a Treaty on the Prevention of the Placement of Weapons in Outer Space are hampered by the unwillingness to come to an agreement. As it is the case with missile defense, the U.S. opposes any limitations on the use of outer space for military purposes. With such an approach it is difficult to expect that other countries will not use outer space to achieve their own strategic goals, for example, to affect the outer space echelon which is the most vulnerable component of missile defense. It was proved possible back in the time of existence of the Soviet Union. And we all remember that in 2008 China destroyed an orbiting satellite.

A couple of comments on European imbalances in conventional arms. According to some reports, NATO countries outnumber Russia by a ratio 3 to 1 in tanks; 3 to 1 in armored combat vehicles; 2,4 to 1 in combat aircraft and 2,9 to 1 in attack helicopters. The CFE Treaty and associated arrangements based on the principles of the Cold War are absolutely outdated. At least Russia will never return to them. We need a new approach to address the issues of conventional arms control. The same principle of indivisible security should serve as a basis. The work on new arms control arrangements in Europe may be initiated when necessary conditions are met, new challenges and threats for Europe stemming from conventional arms problems are identified. At the same time we should not confound issues of arms control with problems of frozen conflicts. New mechanisms must be aimed at developing cooperation based on the equality of rights and mutual respect in the interests of strengthening security of each European nation and not at NATO’s control of the Armed Forces of Russia.

The time is ripe to find a way to draw other nuclear-weapon states into the Russian-U.S. dialogue on the reduction of strategic offensive arms. At the initial stage of multilateral negotiation process we can start, for example, with an obligation of other members of “the nuclear club” not to build up their nuclear forces. We could think about joint transparency and later on verification measures.

In the longer run the multilateral regime should cover not only P5 nations but also countries with significant nuclear-weapon capabilities. I deliberately avoid using the term “de facto” nuclear-weapon states so as not to be regarded by those countries as acknowledging their nuclear status on a par with the five officially recognized nuclear-weapon states under the terms of the NPT. Recognition of such countries as de jure nuclear-weapon states may have destructive influence on the NPT which is inadmissible under any circumstances.

Finally, nuclear-weapon states must be fully confident that over the course of disarmament there is no erosion of nonproliferation regime and other countries do not try to obtain nuclear weapons. Nuclear nonproliferation regime must not only be stable but it has to be improved all the time.

Thus, the prospects of further nuclear disarmament are determined by many factors. It is hardly possible to speak about “nuclear zero” while turning a blind eye to all mentioned interrelated problems. It is inadmissible to take only one factor out of the global context and to torpedo the work on the other issues. We need to move forward in the field of disarmament in a way that would reinforce strategic stability and security of every country.

Thank you.

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