INF, New START and the Crisis in U.S.-Russian Arms Control
Ambassador Anatoly Antonov participated in 2019 Arms Control Association Annual Meeting:
Dear ladies and gentlemen,
It is a pleasure for me to participate in the annual “Arms Control Association” Conference. Thank you for inviting me to join the discussion on most pressing issues of strategic stability.
I would like to make brief introductory remarks, upon which we can build our further discussion.
First. I assume that the majority in this room favors arms control. We are concerned by the current shape of strategic stability.
Why do we need arms control? My understanding is simple: arms control, including disarmament, creates a favorable and predictable atmosphere between major powers; positively impacts the international situation; eases tensions in the world, saves taxpayer money that could rather be invested into our economies and, therefore, benefit our people.
Why does the majority in the world pressure the Russian Federation and the USA on arms control? I’ll try to answer. The Russian Federation and the USA are the major nuclear powers possessing 90-95% of all nuclear weapons. That’s why in 2009 our leaders decided to start negotiations to limit American and Russian Strategic Offensive Arms. It was a logical step taking into account our positive experience of bilateral cooperation on strategic stability. The potential for joint efforts for peace, security, disarmament, strengthening non-proliferation and arms control is far fr om being exhausted. We can do so much more if we respect the national interests of each other. The primary goal for us is to build a security architecture, which would give tangible results of the principle of equal and indivisible security for every nation.
Second. The Russian security is not solely determined by the balance of strategic nuclear weapons of our two countries. It depends on many other factors, including the plans to develop the U.S. global missile defense system; long-range high-precision systems; the U.S. non-strategic nuclear weapons in Europe; balance of conventional forces; existence of a large number of military bases with a growing military infrastructure near the Russian borders; proposed deployment of weapons in outer Space; a perspective of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT); the situation with non-proliferation of WMD, etc.
Third. For many years the U.S. has been rejecting any limitations on its military capabilities. Today we are planning to discuss the INF and New START Treaties. And what should be done to lim it painful consequences of efforts to destroy arms control regime. But these treaties are just a part of global problem.
Fourth. The issue of including every nuclear state in the process of limiting and reducing nuclear weapons is becoming increasingly pressing.
Fifth. Let’s take a look at what has been done by the Russian Federation to preserve the INF Treaty. Since 2007 we have been making suggestions to make the Treaty multilateral (that’s exactly what the U.S. Administration is proposing now). We’ve been discussing our concerns over Washington’s compliance with the Treaty within the INF Special Verification Commission, without making them public. In order to dispel U.S. complaints over the 9M729 missile we were ready for unprecedented transparency measures, which reached far beyond our INF obligations.
What did we get in return from our U.S. partners? Our suggestions were rejected. Our concerns over unmanned aerial vehicles (drones), target missiles and Mk 41 launchers deployed as part of the U.S. missile defense in Europe, were simply ignored. Washington decided to take a hard-edged stance and talk to us through ultimatums. It goes without saying that such unconstructive approach is absolutely unacceptable to us and cannot lead to a positive outcome.
Due to the end of the INF Treaty, the level of predictability of international security and strategic stability will certainly decline, a risk of misinterpretation will increase.
Sixth. Recently political scientists and mass media outlets have been vigorously imposing the idea of “Russian and American withdrawal” from the INF Treaty. Such statement is a harsh distortion of the real facts and a completely false interpretation of the stance, which our country has taken in response to Washington’s decision to completely dismantle the Treaty.
It would be absolutely incorrect to talk about Russia’s withdrawal from the Treaty: we have never been pushing this agenda. We were consistently trying to preserve the INF Treaty. Only after Washington suspended its obligations under the Treaty, our country, considering the U.S. violations of the Treaty, was forced to take a reciprocal action. However, we haven’t taken any steps on actual “withdrawal”, including sending a corresponding notification. Therefore, it would be wrong to put us on the same line with the U.S. in this regard, both from conceptual and legal points of view.
Seventh. On February 2, 2019, Russian President Vladimir Putin made it clear – Russia will not deploy intermediate-range or shorter-range weapons, if we develop weapons of this kind – neither in Europe nor anywhere until United States weapons of this kind are deployed to the corresponding regions of the world.
Eighth. It was U.S. withdrawal from the ABM Treaty that forced Russia to develop entirely different new arms. Now, some politicians and generals have expressed grave concerns over these systems. Yet, we’ve been warning about possible consequences of Washington’s unilateral actions. We’ve kept saying that we won’t stand idly by watching strategic stability being distorted. Nobody believed us.
And what do we see now? “Astronomical” sums of money will be spent to develop global missile defense. But all analysts admit that our new strategic weapons can penetrate any missile defense system. Further increase in spending money to pursue this goal will only harm American taxpayers.
Meanwhile, our response is outlined in a way that will not draw the Russian Federation into a costly arms race. By the way, according to the 2018 NATO Secretary General’s Annual Report, NATO states spent almost
1 trillion dollars on defense (987,5 billion dollars, from which 281,7 – European countries, 684,4 – the U.S.). Therefore, Alliance’s defense budget was at least 20 times bigger than Russia’s defense spending (about 46 billion dollars).
You can decide for yourself who is pushing the world towards an arms race.
Ninth. Concerns are growing over the future of the New START, which expires in 2021. On many occasions, we voiced our readiness to extend the Treaty for another five years. We are told that the issue is being considered on inter-agency level.
The extension of the New START is not a simple technicality that could be resolved in a couple of weeks. Serious issues must first be settled. We hope that Russian concerns regarding conversion procedures the U.S. has employed to meet the accord’s limits will be fully dispelled.
We have to remember that American side has reached the set limits not only by actually reducing the arms, but also by converting a certain number of them in a way the Russian Federation still cannot confirm their incapability of employing nuclear weapons, as it is specified by the Treaty.
Tenth. As a leading nuclear power, we responsibly adhere to our arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation obligations. Our proposals to resolve the INF issues and preserve the New START still stand. The efforts, required to return to an equal, professional dialogue are not exhausted.
We won’t act “needy”. We will not initiate talks on these matters in the future. We’ll wait for our partners to come around and engage in an equal and meaningful dialogue on this issue of global importance. Are new shocks really required for this to happen? I hope not. All our proposals are on the negotiations table.