Moscow cool to Obama nuke cuts idea
20 June 2013, 08:41
Moscow - Russian officials on Wednesday reacted coldly to the call by
President Barack Obama to jointly reduce nuclear weapons stockpiles by a
third, saying the United States should address Moscow's concerns over
missile defence first.
"How can we take seriously this idea about
cuts in strategic nuclear potential while the United States is
developing its capabilities" to intercept Russia's weapons, deputy prime
minister Dmitry Rogozin asked.
"Clearly, [Russia's] political
leadership cannot take these assurances seriously," said Rogozin, who
oversees the defence sector and the nuclear industry, according to the
state-owned Itar-TASS news agency.
"The offence arms race leads to
a defence arms race and vice versa," he said, speaking after a
government meeting with President Vladimir Putin in Saint Petersburg
that focused on Russia's defence sector.
His remarks followed the
call on Russia by the US President in Germany to reduce strategic
nuclear weapon stockpiles by up to a third, taking them to the 1 000
Although Putin did not react directly to Obama's
proposal, he said at the meeting that Russia would not let its nuclear
deterrent be undermined.
He said that Russia is faced with a
situation in which countries are developing offensive capabilities by
building up mid-range missiles and sophisticated non-nuclear weapons,
and while the United States has worked to reconfigure its missile
shield, the project is still going ahead.
"We cannot allow the
balance of the system of strategic deterrence to be disturbed or the
effectiveness of our nuclear force to be decreased," Putin said.
diplomats have additionally told Washington ahead of Obama's speech
that cuts should include other nuclear armed states, not just Russia and
the United States, according to Kremlin foreign policy aide Yury
"The situation now is not
like in the 1960s and 1970s when only the United States and the Soviet
Union held talks on reducing nuclear arms," Ushakov said at a briefing
"Now we need to look more broadly... and increase the circle of participants in possible contacts on this matter."
lawmaker Alexei Pushkov, who heads the foreign policy committee of the
Duma or lower house of parliament, further said it would be "impossible"
to decrease strategic offensive weapons as long as the missile shield
issue remains a concern.
"As long as this issue is not resolved,
it is impossible to agree to a decrease in strategic weapons, and so far
no resolution is in the picture," he said.
Further cuts are "something for a very long-term perspective," he told the Interfax news agency.
previous ground-breaking cut was agreed by United States and Russia in
2010 as part of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) that Obama
signed together with then president Dmitry Medvedev.
restricts the former Cold War foes to a maximum of 1 550 deployed
warheads each. It was one of the greatest legacies of Medvedev and Obama
before Putin returned to the Kremlin last year for a third term.
and the United States jointly control 90% of the world's nuclear
weapons, with Russia's total inventory numbering 8 500 warheads at last
Disagreements over the missile shield over Europe have
plagued Russia-US relations for years. Moscow sees it as directly
undermining its own capabilities despite Washington's assurances that
the system focuses on regional threats such as Iran and North Korea.
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