On the situation around the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty
On January 15, 2019 Moscow and Washington held inter-agency consultations on the INF Treaty in Geneva. The US had not even tried to bring the positions of the parties closer, making it clear that it was determined to implement its plans to destroy the accord.
Andrea Thompson, the US State Department's Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security, who led the US delegation once again accused Russia of non-compliance with the accord, and said that Washington would start the process of pulling out of the INF Treaty on February 2, unless Moscow dismantled its 9M729 missile, which, according to Washington, violates the arms control deal.
Washington has provided no evidence whatsoever that Russia tested the 9M729 missile for a range banned by the INF Treaty.
Our colleagues [the United States] say that it is important to use facts, but this is what we have been offering the Americans to do for more than one year. For a long period of time, they have been simply accusing us of breaching the INF Treaty, without explaining where the breach was.
We explained to the United States that the tests of the 9M729 missile had been conducted for the range permitted by the document. We requested that they furnish some more specific evidence.
If they are convinced that the range was breached, then, perhaps, they may have some satellite images or something else. But nothing has been provided to us.
Moscow stands for full transparency in the document’s observance by Russia and the United States.
This is exactly what we wanted to talk about at the January 15 consultations in Geneva but we were denied this in quite a rude manner. An ultimatum was advanced that only we can solve this ourselves because it is just necessary to destroy all the missiles, launchers and any related equipment, and also to ensure the regular arrival of US inspectors once every three months. This was initially devised to create a pretext for their withdrawal from the treaty.
The US said during the official contacts on disarmament issues back in October that the decision was final and irreversible, and the statement on the withdrawal was not an invitation for dialogue.
Clearly, the destruction of the Treaty is fraught with the most negative consequences for global strategic stability. Following the US withdrawal from the INF Treaty, the entire arms control system will be endangered, including the New START [Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty] and nuclear non-proliferation. Russia has confirmed that although the expert consultations held by Russia and the US in Geneva on January 15 ended in failure because of the United States’ ultimatum-like manner, we are still ready to continue a specific and professional dialogue to try to save this most important treaty and make a significant contribution to strategic stability.
On January 18, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov held briefings for the heads of diplomatic missions and staff of embassies accredited in Russia from the countries of Austria, Armenia, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Brazil, UK, Hungary, Germany, Greece, Denmark, India, Ireland, Spain, Italy, Kazakhstan, Cyprus, Kyrgyzstan, China, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Tajikistan, Finland, France, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Switzerland, Sweden, Estonia, and South Africa, as well as the Delegation of the European Union to Russia on the issue of Russian-American INF Treaty.
The Russian side emphasised the urgent need to further pursue the world community’s efforts to preserve the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, pointing out the fact that American claims against Russia are unfounded, and that the ultimatums that US is making in order to cover up their violation of the Treaty and their intentions to destroy it altogether, are unacceptable. The officials’ attention was drawn to the fact that the US rejected Russia’s proposal to ensure mutual transparency in order to relieve the existing concerns. It was noted that Washington’s destruction of one of the cornerstones of global stability is fraught with dire consequences for the entire system of international security.